Anyone who has ever dealt with a family member, spouse, close friend, or themself addicted to drugs or alcohol knows just how difficult of a battle it is. And one of the most predictive factors of someone building a successful recovery is their length of time in treatment. If you plan to leave treatment early, know that your recovery efforts don’t have to die in vain. There is still hope for a successful recovery. 

While it’s dangerous to relapse after treatment, it’s also dangerous to never get help with treatment ever again. Many people who relapse end up obtaining a lasting recovery on their second or even third time in treatment. So, don’t give up. In this article, we are going to cover some of the main reasons why someone would leave treatment early, the dangers of leaving, and how to overcome this obstacle to become the best version of yourself. 

If you’re looking for a treatment facility that has your individual needs in mind and can help to keep you accountable during treatment, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here to help you through your journey. 

leave treatment early
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The Dangers of Leaving Treatment Early

Leaving addiction treatment early, or against medical advice (AMA), can be extremely detrimental to an addict’s path to recovery. When individuals decide to exit their program early, he or she, may not be ready to reenter society without the use of alcohol and drugs and will inevitably relapse back into addiction. What does “early” mean? Typically, it’s leaving anytime under 30 days,  although that depends on certain factors. Leaving treatment early is checking out of rehab AMA (against medical advice).

The First Two Days

Making the decision to enter a treatment center may be one of the most difficult decisions you may have to face, but once entered into treatment the work is not over. When you are at the beginning of a treatment plan, you will learn that you have to show up every day. And some days will be more difficult than others. It’s during this time you have to keep your head and heart strong. If you or someone you love is trying to leave treatment within the first two day, keep in mind that you made the best decision for yourself when you entered treatment. This shows tremendous strength already and you have what it takes.

Within Day Three to Two Weeks

If the person wants to leave during this time frame, It’s normally one of two reasons. It’s either because they believe they are cured or they want to use drugs or alcohol again right now. This is the most common time for individuals to leave addiction treatment early. Withdrawal is always an accompaniment to treatment, and within-day three to two weeks withdrawal is at its peak. when people leave treatment from 3-14 days in, it’s usually because they feel the need to use it in order to gain control of withdrawal symptoms. 

After The First Two Weeks

The biggest danger of all is when an addict wants to leave treatment after two weeks. At this point withdrawal and detox are usually over, but that does not mean an addict is in the clear. The purpose of inpatient treatment is to relearn how to live life without the need for drugs and alcohol. Once clean and sober, the real work begins. Oftentimes when a recently sober individual leaves AMA, they return to their old ways immediately. In some cases, substance abusers go back to the exact amount they used before and overdose is very possible. 

Why Addicts Leave Treatment Early 

According to a Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, discharges against medical advice (AMA) can increase for individuals with a current or history of substance or alcohol abuse. In fact, close to 17% of people who enter rehab for substance abuse or mental health issues will leave treatment prematurely. Because addiction is fundamentally about compulsive behavior, people need time to break the cycle.  We are helping the brain gradually change and settle down such that the person feels more empowered in their life. 

Here are some common reasons why addicts leave treatment early

Leave Treatment Early – Lack of Confidence

We often find patients experiencing a wide range of emotions in early recovery, and a lack of confidence can lead a person to leave AMA. Over time, grappling with the effect of addiction can harm a person’s self-esteem and make recovery more difficult. #PROTIP An affirmation is a simple, positive statement you say to yourself when you are feeling less than confident. While affirmations may not seem genuine at first, reciting them eventually does change the way you feel about yourself.

Withdrawal Symptoms Are Too Difficult

Withdrawal is what your body goes through when it’s no longer getting the drugs it’s addicted to. And it’s no joke. All withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, but some are even painful and dangerous. That’s why it’s so strongly recommended that people don’t detox on their own.

#PROTIP As the addict, the only thing you can really do to combat wanting to leave treatment, for this reason, is to keep in mind that the discomfort is only temporary. The rest is up to the treatment facility. A detox facility should manage the withdrawal symptoms and make sure clients are as comfortable as possible.

Unrealistic Expectations About Treatment or Recovery

Treatment and recovery are both difficult, but they are worth it. Sometimes the methods used will resonate with you, but it is unrealistic to think that everything will come easily. You will have to show up and try your hardest every day. You have to acknowledge that the real reason you are in treatment is to work through your addiction. #PROTIP: Those first steps into your recovery will set the foundation for a lifetime of happiness if you put in the work. At Harmony Ridge Recovery, we try to help people think realistically about their relapse potential so as to build a good protective recovery program.

How to Help Someone Who Leaves Treatment Early

Getting your loved one into treatment for addiction wasn’t easy. In fact, we know it was downright challenging. You may have thought things were only going to get better, but the reality of the situation is many times people leave treatment early against medical advice. While you may feel distraught or panicked about your loved one leaving treatment early, there are things you must avoid doing – regardless of how difficult the situation. 

Remind yourself why you chose to send them to rehab.

DON’T forget to be patient, loving and trusting in the process of recovery. Know that your loved one can and will get better if they receive complete care and apply themself to being the best version of themself. 

Contact the treatment facility to talk to your loved one’s therapist, counselor or recovery coach.

DON’T keep your loved one’s decision “in the family.” The chances are, his or her counselors and therapists have seen this type of behavior and know how to deal with it.

Remind him or her why they went to rehab in the first place.

DON’T forget that many people in early recovery often have periods of extreme sensitivity and emotional stress, paranoia, and physical pain. Remind them their pain is temporary.

Reach out for support for yourself.

DON’T feel like you are in this alone. Your loved one may not be making a healthy choice, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t worth the help. Call your support system, attend a local meeting, and consider family or individual therapy. By learning about addiction and abuse, you’ll be able to better understand what your loved one is going through.

Find Harmony In Your Life By Taking The First Step Towards Recovery

Has your addiction left you feeling helpless with no way out? Has your loved one’s addiction made them unrecognizable? We understand what you are experiencing and are here to help! Addiction not only negatively impacts the life of the user, it also wreaks havoc upon the lives of their family and friends. Things may feel hopeless at the moment, but there is a way out. Recovering from alcohol or drug addiction is feasible. With dedication, the right support system and choosing an accredited drug and alcohol treatment program, countless individuals have achieved and maintained sobriety. Researching the right drug and alcohol treatment facility is the first step towards recovery.