Leaving Rehab Early [What You Need to Know]

When a person decides on leaving rehab early, many factors can contribute to that decision. The patient might feel very uncomfortable in the early days of rehab admission. However, leaving Against Medical Advice (AMA) is never recommended in a rehab setting.

The next question comes, can a patient leave rehab early? Can they just check themselves out of rehab? It is a yes and no answer, depending on the patient’s circumstances. If it is a court-ordered mandate, the person must stay. If patients have checked into rehab on their own accord, it is likely that they are able to leave whenever they choose.

Patients who leave rehabilitation treatment centers early against medical advice pose a concern and a challenge for sobriety and safety. The longer the person is in rehab treatment, the better their chances are to achieve a clean and sober life. There are many benefits to completing a 30, 60, or 90-day rehab program.

Table of Contents

Why Patients Leave Rehab Early

When someone is struggling with addiction, they make their own rules and love the environment of feast or famine. Some people who struggle with addiction are used to calling the shots in their own lives. If that’s the case, they may not want to answer to anyone. Once they get into a rehabilitation program, things change. The person struggling with addiction is now living by the rules of a treatment program and living a clean and sober life. Adjusting to someone else’s rules can be a challenge, but it is necessary to promote a positive change, especially in rehab. Essentially, it is a lifestyle change.

But before a person can even start a rehab program, they must go through detox. About 80 percent of addicted individuals need detox before starting a treatment program. One of the main factors in people leaving rehab is the withdrawal symptoms and the feeling of being without the substance they were using. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult, but in rehab treatment, they closely monitored and aided with medication. Detox is likely one of the toughest challenges in early recovery, and leaving to use can be extremely tempting. If a patient leaves rehab to use drugs, it’s likely because they felt unable to make it through the withdrawal symptoms. If an addicted person is checking out of rehab early, there are risks, life-threatening risks. While the decision might feel right in the interim, the long-term effects are far worse.

 

The Risks of Leaving Early

While a person recovering from substance abuse may feel right after detox or even a few days into rehab, they are far from addressing the issue at hand. Leaving rehab against medical advice is a gamble that typically does not end well. The success rate of recovery success after abandoning rehab before graduating is slim. There are many risks associated with leaving rehab early. Rehab treatment programs are instrumental in addressing the situation that got the patient to use drugs or/and alcohol in the first place. For a rehab treatment program to be effective, the right pieces need to be in place.

Some people in recovery lack the patience to make it through a full treatment program. When a person decides on checking out of rehab early, it typically occurs when they are in detox or fresh from detox. For those leaving rehab right after detox, the worst part may be over, but there is more work to be done.

Once detox completes, they have pushed the reset button on their life. The challenge for the patient is seeing the big picture and getting to the finish line. So, the answer to the question does leave rehab early harm recovery chances is yes!

The Consequences of Leaving Rehab Early

  • Wasted time and resources
  • Increased risk of relapse
  • The danger of harm to self and others
  • Legal issues
  • Financial issues

With over 21.5 million fighting addiction every year, WHO reports that substance abuse is responsible for 5.4% of the burden of disease in the world today. Addiction will eventually swallow a person whole and leave the fallout for the family and friends to pick up the pieces.

 

The Benefits of Staying in Rehab

Staying in rehab has far-reaching positive effects for patients dedicated to reaching their sobriety goals. A person in recovery can build new relationships while repairing existing relationships. The longer a patient stays in a rehab, the better off they once they reintegrate into the real world. Sobering living is an environment that is the best defensive in beating an addiction is an extended stay in that environment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends 90 days to get the maximum benefits a drug and alcohol rehab treatment program provides. While in most cases, people recover in 28 days, 30 days, or 60-day programs. While the first week of rehab may be challenging, once a person has ridden the storm, the real healing can truly begin.

Stay in Rehab to Avoid

  • Avoid relapses
  • Build new relationships
  • Therapy- group/individual
  • Reach sobriety goals
  • Learn better-coping methods
  • Get to the root of your addiction
  • Alternative to prison or death
  • Aftercare services

The success stories and numbers do not lie. Sobriety and a better life are obtainable, but it takes compassion, patience, and hard work. But completing a rehab program leads to a clean and sober life. Recent AA membership has shown how effective treatment is for lifelong sobriety. The success stories and numbers do not lie. Sobriety and a better life are obtainable, but it takes compassion, patience, and hard work. But completing a rehab program leads to a clean and sober life. Recent AA membership has shown how effective treatment is for lifelong sobriety.

This AA membership survey finds 22% of members that have been sober 20 years and longer after completing their program, 14% sobriety 10-20 years after, 13% 5-10 years, 24% 1-5 years, and 27% a year after becoming sober. 84% of those members who received treatment or counseling said it played a vital part in their recovery from alcoholism. The key for a person staying in rehab is finding the right program for them. The right environment, the right people, and the right staff can set you up for success.

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A Rehab Program That Actually Works

Find the right program for recovery takes a lot of research. It is also imperative to make sure the right resources are available. Every person is unique in what they need in how they recover from addiction. The good news is, there are options out there, no matter what stage of addiction. Many factors weigh into choosing a rehab program: cost, the center’s credibility if insurance will cover anything if they need specialized care, among other things. Knowing all the right things can drastically change the outcome of someone going into rehab. Choosing the right rehab is vital to the success of the individual completing the program. The research and having a checklist of what you’re looking for in a rehab program will prevent patients from leaving rehab early.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse provides a list of 13 essential principles that a person should consider for an effective addiction treatment program:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease No single treatment is appropriate for everyone
  • Treatment needs to be readily available
  • Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual
  • Enough time must be allotted for treatment to be effective
  • Do not overlook the effectiveness of behavioral therapies that include individual, family, or group counseling
  • What other rehabs near me offer the same services?
  • Medications are a chief element of treatment
  • Treatment needs to evolve constantly
  • Mental disorders are common among individuals recovering from addiction
  • Detox is only the first step of rehabilitation
  • Treatment programs do not need to be voluntary to be effective
  • The use of drugs during a treatment program should be monitored regularly — so relapses do not occur
  • Treatment programs should test patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases

These factors are chief in making a person stay in rehab and stay motivated from the first day to every day from that point forward.

 

Motivating A Friend or Family Member to Stay in Rehab

It takes a lot of courage for an individual problem with substance abuse getting help is the next step. It’s a difficult process. If someone you love has decided to leave rehab early, there’s a chance that you can help prevent them from doing so by encouraging them to stay. Even if they have already left rehab, it doesn’t mean that all is lost.

It’s very important that you let them know that you do not support them leaving rehab early. If your loved one believes that you will be there to pick them up and help them when they leave, they are more likely to do so. Ensuring that you only provide support when your loved one is making the right decisions.

Staying in rehab will obviously increase the chances for long-term success in your loved one’s recovery. Even if your loved one complains, the best thing to do is encourage them to stay. As time passes, your loved one will likely settle in to the rehab program. It happens with many patients who at first felt everything in them wanting to leave treatment.

Content Medically Reviewed by:

Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
 

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