Millions of Americans struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, and thousands enter an inpatient rehab facility each year to help detoxify and begin the process of getting and staying sober. For many families, it’s a relief when their loved one enters rehab. However, not every client in an inpatient center is there voluntarily, and even for the ones that are, sometimes it gets to a breaking point, and they decide to leave.
Inpatient rehab clients may leave for many reasons. Some may feel healthy enough to leave on their own. Others may miss their families. In many inpatient rehab centers, the focus isn’t just about getting clean, it’s about exploring the underlying reasons why people choose to drink or use drugs. Past trauma and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are common reasons people self-medicate with drug abuse. It can be very overwhelming when the drug is gone and they’re coming to terms with these issues in therapy.
Leaving rehab early or checking out Against Medical Advice (AMA) is usually leaving before the 30-day period is over. It can have serious health consequences and a tremendous effect on the person’s chances of remaining sober.
Dangers of Leaving Rehab Early
Leaving very early (after day 1 or day 2) can be very dangerous, as many people are still in physical substance withdrawal. Some drugs, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, can be deadly to detox from without medical supervision, and hours 24-72 are usually the most dangerous. If a client leaves this early, it can have serious health repercussions.
Once a person successfully detoxes, they usually feel much better physically by day 7. After a week of sobriety, many people may feel confident they can remain sober alone and start getting restless in rehab. Or, they may feel urges to use or drink again because the thoughts and emotions beginning to surface in therapy are too hard to deal with. Remember, they’ve been dulling their emotions for years with drugs, so facing them head-on is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary. Clients at this stage may either believe they’re cured, or they cannot deal with the hard work of therapy without using.
If your loved one is calling you, telling you they want to leave rehab at this point, they may create wild stories to manipulate you emotionally. Remember, though, that the treatment is for their own good, and it’s hard work initially. An inpatient treatment center typically offers lots of counseling support to guide those newly sober through the process of untwisting the thinking and trauma that got them to this point in the first place.
If you receive a phone call from your loved one asking you to leave, encourage them that they have made it this far and can make it just 12 more hours or 24 more hours. They may be seeking to leave out of a fear response from their emotions of shame, guilt, and trauma.
After a phone call like this, it’s imperative that you contact the treatment center yourself and inform them that your loved one wishes to leave. They may have a counselor intervene one-on-one to help them get to the bottom of why they want to leave by giving them support and an unjudging listening ear.
Do You Need Rehab Treatment?
Are you worried about your drug or alcohol use or that of a loved one? We can help. Baystate Recovery Center offers several levels of drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, including family therapy. Contact us today for a confidential assessment of your needs.