Family members often feel hopeful when their loved one checks into a rehab facility to treat their alcohol or drug addiction. However, one day you get a call from the addiction center that your loved one is leaving rehab early or leaving against medical advice (AMA). It’s never an easy call to receive, but it’s something that happens very often.
Can You Voluntarily Leave Rehab?
First of all, when we talk about leaving rehab early, it means someone chooses to check themselves out of a rehab center before hitting the 30 days mark. The percentage of people in treatment facilities who leave against medical advice ranges from 3% to 51%, with an average of 17%.
Anyone can check out of rehab if they wish to. The staff team and the addiction professionals can’t hold anyone against their will in treatment. Family members and friends can try their best to persuade them, but they won’t be able to stop them.
What Could Happen When You Leave Rehab
Leaving treatment early can bring negative consequences. Not just for the addict, but their family members and friends as well. When someone decides to leave rehab early, they can put themselves in risky situations.
The First 3 Days
Believe it or not, day one or two is a very common timeframe to leave rehab. This is when most people realize that they’ve entered inpatient rehab and are removed from everything they’re accustomed to. They’re starting to realize that they’ll be away from their family, friends, and loved ones. Leaving at this time frame will mean they’re probably not ready to start their recovery journey.
However, the real danger sets in after day two. By the end of the first 48 to 72 hours is when most people experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The mental and physical withdrawal symptoms are so intense that most people want to give up and walk out.
Unfortunately, when they choose to leave at this point, they’ll likely try to go back to their old habits. Because their bodies have already decreased their tolerance, they might suffer an overdose that could be fatal.
After the First Week
Although rare, some people leave rehab after detoxing. Most of the time, they believe that detox is enough to treat their addiction. In fact, this is a common misconception both addicts and family members have. Detox is an essential step in the rehab process, but it isn’t the treatment.
After detox, people struggle with addictive behaviors, mental illness, and other factors contributing to addiction.
Top Reasons Someone Leaves Rehab Against Medical Advice
Leaving rehab AMA is never the right choice. You are in rehab for a reason, and if you choose to go before proper discharge, relapse can occur. There are several reasons that people leave treatment AMA. Here are some of the most common.
1. Not Wanting to be in Rehab in the First Place
They may have been convinced to go to rehab by friends and family members, and know that they are there, they want to leave. Unfortunately, these patients cannot be forced to stay and have a very high chance of relapse, even if they were to complete the rehab program.
However, it is possible for people not to come into treatment but then arrive and work on themselves. While they might choose to leave rehab, they might continue with other addiction treatments like attending group meetings, for example.
2. Acting on Emotions
As people detox, sober up, and face emotions that have been suppressed with drugs and alcohol, feelings can go awry. Despite doctors, nurses, and addiction specialists’ efforts, some people decide to leave, and nothing can stop them.
3. Could Not handle Detox
Despite efforts to make detox as comfortable and safe as possible, some people find the idea overwhelming. Once they begin to experience drug withdrawals, they feel the need to leave and get immediate relief – by turning right back to the drugs. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug and alcohol medical detox program try to make the process as comfortable as possible by combining it with other comprehensive therapies.
4. Thinking Feel Rehab is a Waste of Time
Some people will insist they can sober up on their own, despite previous failed efforts to do so. Chances are they will fail again, and a full stay in rehab is inevitable if they ever want to achieve sobriety. Most people who believe this will quickly dismiss treatment leave their treatment center before completing their treatment programs.
These situations are hard to diffuse, and it’s challenging for staff to convince people to stay once they have their mindset on leaving. At the same time, medical professionals and specialists are trained to intervene and help patients focus back on why they wanted to get help in the first place.
Can You Do Something to Keep a Person In Rehab?
In some states, you can; only if they’re your child and under the age of 18. It’s virtually impossible to hold someone in a rehab facility against their will. If they pose a risk to themselves or others, you might get law enforcement involved, but even still, drug rehab might not be the place they’ll be held.
However, trying to keep a person in treatment against their will can be detrimental to their mental health. Someone must be willing and ready to start healing for rehab to be successful.
In some cases, substance abuse treatment will be paired with mental health assistance to help promote long-term recovery. Dual diagnosis recovery programs can offer a unique approach to drug treatment because they focus on addiction and mental health disorders.
If you or a loved one struggles with substance use disorders, take the first step by getting help today and committing to remain in treatment long enough to heal from the inside out—Call Lighthouse Recovery Institute for assistance at 1-866-308-2090.