Can I Go Back to a Rehab After Leaving Early?

Can you check yourself out of rehab and return again later? While staying in treatment for the recommended amount of time is ultimately the best option, leaving rehab early is possible for some, and you usually have the opportunity to return. However, this depends on the circumstances surrounding you leaving the rehab center.

Let’s be real. Addiction recovery is not always a straightforward process. There may be several reasons to feel justified in leaving, including distress from withdrawal symptoms. However, the important thing is that you don’t give up on treatment as a whole and keep working on your recovery until you find what benefits you.

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Can I Go Back to Rehab After Leaving Early?

Some people may think that if they have left rehab and relapsed, then treatment just doesn’t work for them, so there’s no point in returning. Relapsing after leaving rehab may understandably dishearten some people, but you should not let it completely discourage you from seeking treatment again.

It’s important to understand that relapse does not mean that treatment has failed. Although it is an unfortunate setback, relapse is a common part of the recovery process, especially after reducing or stopping treatment. Effective treatment is not a one-time action. The long-term nature of addiction means that relapse is likely if treatment is not ongoing.

Relapse indicates that you need to resume treatment and possibly modify it or try another method altogether, but it does not mean that you are beyond recovery. No single treatment will work for everyone, so it may take time to find what’s best for you.

While relapse is normal for those on the path to recovery, it can also be very dangerous for certain drugs. After a period of abstinence, your tolerance for a drug decreases. This means your body is no longer adapted to your previous level of drug exposure, so you can easily overdose if you use as much of the drug as you did before quitting.

In some cases, overdose can be fatal. This is why preventing relapse is one of the major components of treatment.
Ultimately, treatment is more effective when a person wants to change. So, even if you have left rehab before, the fact that you are considering it again is a good indication of your changing attitude. If you are ready to return to rehab, then you can absolutely try again.

Preparing to Return

If you’re preparing to return that’s a good thing. However, it’s crucial for the treatment you choose to be tailored to your specific needs.

Addiction can affect many different aspects of a person’s life, so in order to be successful, treatment should address the needs of the whole person. It’s important that rehab not only helps you stop your drug use, but also helps you improve your health and overall functioning.

Can I Check Out Again if I Want?

What if a certain program isn’t working for you? Can you check yourself out of rehab in that case? What if you feel like you just can’t handle rehab?

Leaving rehab early is generally not recommended, but you are able to do so although it would be considered leaving Against Medical Advice (AMA).

Addiction specialists usually advise staying in treatment for at least three months in order to start seeing improvements. The longer a patient stays in rehab, the more positive the outcome tends to be.

Unfortunately, about 30% of patients drop out of outpatient substance abuse treatment programs within the first month. The dropout rate increases to 50% past the recommended three-month point. Higher dropout rates tend to be associated with certain demographics, including younger people, those in minority groups, and those who are unemployed or have lower income.

Even though dropping out is not ideal, know that you are not alone in your recovery struggles. People check themselves out of rehab for a variety of reasons. Patients who leave early typically feel that some area of treatment is lacking. The most common reasons people give for checking out of rehab early are staff limitations or lack of connection, lack of motivation/readiness, and not enough support.

Common Reasons for Leaving

Patients often express a desire to make a connection with the treatment program staff. Patients who leave have repeatedly emphasized that such a connection is important for retention. Those who feel that the clinicians do not care or are not invested in their recovery are less likely to continue treatment.

Patients who leave also often report that treatment retention was related to the support they received (or did not receive) from friends, family, and others in recovery. In this case, it might be useful to some patients to explore their options for support groups.

Although support groups are not a formal treatment method, they can enhance the effects of clinical treatment, especially when patients are not receiving adequate support from their usual communities. Support group members can relate to and motivate one another.

In any case, treatment is also highly dependent on a person’s own motivation. Often, patients who leave acknowledge that they had entered treatment when they were not ready to fully engage in their recovery.

If you find yourself relating to any of these reasons, you should not give up on treatment altogether, though it may be a good idea to seek out a different program. You can bring up your concerns with the treatment professionals you will be working with ahead of time in order to tailor your rehab experience toward your needs and raise your chances of staying.

What is Leaving Against Medical Advice?

Leaving rehab against medical advice is defined as a patient insisting on leaving treatment despite explicit disagreement from professional staff. Medical staff may advise against leaving treatment when it is clear a patient needs the intensive care provided in rehab, especially in the early stages of treatment.

Leaving against medical advice is associated with a variety of negative health consequences, and those who leave are likely to be readmitted for worsened health.
Certain factors may lead to a higher likelihood of leaving against medical advice. For instance, those who have very recently used drugs are less likely to remain in treatment despite staff insistence. How a patient is admitted to a treatment program may also be a key factor for leaving against medical advice.

When patients are admitted to an inpatient withdrawal unit from the emergency department rather than through a planned admission, they are more likely to leave against medical advice. Emergency patients are more likely to be insignificant distress from withdrawal symptoms and thus may feel less motivation or readiness to actively participate in treatment.

Comprehensive withdrawal management services are therefore crucial to preventing leaving against medical advice. Withdrawal management is an important beginning step of addiction treatment in general because withdrawal symptoms can lead to relapse. Being able to endure withdrawal so you are able to see that you can feel good without the drug again is key.
If you are contemplating returning to rehab, then it’s important to have a good idea of the withdrawal services offered by the facilities you are considering.

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What if I got Kicked Out of Rehab?

Although rehab staff generally want patients to remain in treatment, it is possible to be removed or “kicked out” of rehab. Getting kicked out of rehab can happen for a variety of reasons that usually involve failure to comply with the program’s rules and expectations. The termination of services in this manner is typically called administrative discharge or disciplinary discharge.

Administrative discharge may occur due to failure to participate in service activities, such as repeatedly missing counseling sessions. Refusing to follow the rules can also lead to administrative discharge. Residential communities usually have basic rules for communal living regarding hygiene, assigned chores, disruptiveness, and quiet hours.

Other common reasons for administrative discharge include:

  • Threatening the physical or psychological safety of others
  • Possessing contraband or using alcohol/unprescribed drugs
  • Not participating in treatment

Though being removed from a substance abuse treatment program may hinder an individual’s recovery and thus would seem illogical, treatment staff must also consider the success of the treatment facility as a whole alongside the success of individual patients. If one patient poses a threat to the others, it may impede the recovery of the whole group.

Treatment programs also often have limited space, so they are more inclined to keep patients who truly want to change and are dedicated to treatment. There is no reason to stay at a treatment facility if you are not working toward recovery. If programs didn’t remove the patients who are not making the necessary adjustments, then they would have to turn away people who are serious about getting control of their addiction.

It is still possible to return to rehab after administrative discharge, even though it may not be not the same program you were removed from.

What Can I Do if I’m Ready to Try Again?

If you’re ready to try again, that’s a good sign and we can help. If you’re unsure about if you can return to the program that you were at previously, call our helpline.

Once you’re successful in a new program, please remember that leaving against medical advice can put you at risk for negative health consequences, especially if you are still in the early stages of withdrawal. Each time you walk out of the door to go use drugs again, you’re putting yourself at tremendous risk for overdose and death.

Having this type of setback where you’ve left rehab early does not mean all treatment will not work for you.

The important thing to remember is that you can always try again even when you encounter setbacks. The fact that you’re looking for answers is a good sign. It shows that you recognize the problem and want to do something about your addiction. Making the call is the first step. Our professionals can help advise you of the steps to get into available treatment. Reach out to us today at (888) 906-0952 to get back on the right track.

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Our writers are experienced in everything related to addiction, mental health, rehab and recovery.

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