One of the most predictive factors of someone building a successful recovery is their length of time in treatment.  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. It can be devastating for a family who hears of a loved one who has decided to leave treatment early before it’s complete. When a person is leaving treatment early, they make a mistake that can cost them their future. That’s a hard statement to make, especially for those who want to remain sober. Yet, it takes time and a lot of work to make sure that sobriety is possible. 

However, leaving treatment is preventable. But it takes effort from all around.These are some of the most common explanations of why people leave addiction treatment early. 

Top Reasons People Leave Treatment Early

“Detox is too difficult.” 

One of the most common reasons why people leave drug treatment is the drug and alcohol detoxification process. The first couple of weeks of treatment can be uncomfortable and even unbearable because of the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the drug, the length of time the drug was used and the quantity of the drug consumed, the withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable both physically and mentally.

Many drug treatment facilities provide excellent detoxification programs in which licensed and training medical staff provide around the clock supervision.  The goal of detox is to minimize the pain and discomfort of withdrawal. At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, we offer medication-assisted treatment to our patients with opioid addiction. It gives them an alternative form of therapy aside from the typical abstinence-based treatment. 

Whether it’s through naltrexone or buprenorphine, our team of professionals at Harmony Ridge Recovery is here to assist. They know that medications are sometimes a necessary component of the treatment process. In order to not leave treatment early, we offer a way to track how much medication we’re giving you, as well as how long we believe you’ll need it.

The fact is those early in recovery aren’t alone in the management of your withdrawal, you have the support of medical and counseling staff who are encouraging and empathetic to the situation.  Many counselors who work in drug treatment are in recovery themselves so they can identify and relate to the struggles of detoxification.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uses medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat substance abuse. MAT is normally used to treat opioid use disorders but has helped other types in the past. Sometimes other effects from these medications can hinder the recovery process, but they help more often than not. This therapy can be combined with others, like behavioral and group therapies, in order to achieve desired results of sobriety. We understand that ceasing drug use without the help of medication is sometimes not the best option for our patients. In our medication-assisted treatment here at Harmony Ridge, our staff is available 24/7 to manage the different prescribed medications and help you to not leave treatment early.

Leave Treatment Early Because of Unrealistic Expectations 

Some people might go into treatment thinking it’s going to be easy and amazing right from the start. And you can’t really blame them. Addiction takes over a person’s ability to think rationally. And, on top of that, a lot of addicts haven’t been to treatment before. They don’t realize the work that goes into it. So, when they’re forced to confront their emotions and develop tools to live a functional life – rather than simply being medicated until the drugs leave their system – some may choose to leave.

Recovery is worth it and sometimes some of the methods and activities will really resonate with you. But it’s unrealistic to think that everything is going to be easy and amazing. Instead, you should acknowledge that the real reason you’re there is to work through your addiction and take that first step into recovery. That implies effort. Keep an open mind throughout your treatment process. And if something doesn’t go as you expected, don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, take a moment to ask yourself if the treatment program is actually bad or if your expectation was just unrealistic.

“I Already Know All Of This – I Don’t Need Rehab.”

With any addiction recovery program, there will be certain themes that can be repeated. Repetition is important because as humans, that’s how we learn. Because of this repetition, individuals who complete only a few weeks of rehab may become overconfident. While confidence is key in recovery, overconfidence can be potentially damaging. Despite not having the full skill set that they need in order to maintain long-term sobriety, a person may become convinced that he or she is completely healed or “cured.” However, without all of the skills developed and fully in place, they won’t be ready to work through the triggers.

Response: Research indicates that the longer an addicted person remains in treatment, the better their chances of maintaining their recovery.  To leave treatment early means the person thinks they have learned everything they need to know. If a loved one indicates that they already know everything about treatment – it can be a signal of progress, or it can be a signal that more treatment – at different levels –  is necessary. For example, stepping down from inpatient to outpatient or a transitional living home environment.

Dangers to Leave Treatment Early 

There may be a small minority of people who check out of rehab early and do manage to stay sober, but in the vast majority of cases it leads to negative consequences. The dangers of an early exit from this facility include

* The individual will not be prepared for the transition back home so they will likely be overwhelmed by familiar temptations.

* If the person feels like they have had a bad experience they will likely use this as a justification for a return to alcohol and drugs.

* Those who flee treatment while overly emotional (e.g. angry) will not be able to think rationally and so are likely to make bad choices.

* Nobody knows how many chances the individual will get at recovery – some people only seem to get one shot because they never summon up the determination to quit again. This means that by leaving rehab the individual might be blowing their only chance of a good life.

* The individual can use this bad experience as an excuse to never consider rehab again.

* Family and friends are likely to be disappointed by this failure to stay the course of rehab. It may even mean that they struggle to ever trust that person again.

* If the individual leaves rehab and then relapses it can lower their self efficacy – their belief in their own ability to escape addiction. This means that it will be harder for them to quit next time.

Can You Check Yourself Out of Rehab?

If you’re currently enrolled in a rehab program and are considering leaving, talk to your therapists and counselors about how you feel. They’ve been through this before with other patients and can address any concerns you’re having about your recovery, treatment, or progress. You might also want to discuss your concerns in group therapy, because others may feel the same, and you might be able to strengthen each other’s resolve.

Leaving drug rehab early or AMA is a form of self-sabotage – a behavior that is common for those in active addiction. If your loved one decides to leave treatment early, it will be a difficult time for you – however, it should not be the end of the family’s effort and support in getting a loved one well. With the support of family and a strong team of professionals, keeping a loved one active and engaged in their treatment and recovery process is possible.

Lastly, if you really want to leave–you can, but just wait it out for 24 hours and see how you feel. Take recovery day by day, and every morning commit yourself to stay another day. Before you know it, you’ll be on the road to recovery.

Considering to Leave Treatment Early? Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here to help

If you have left 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 for the risk of overdose-related death, 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!