Consequences of Leaving Rehab Early

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Consequences of Leaving Rehab Early

If you have a loved one who insists on leaving rehab early, how should you respond?  The first thing to consider is that an addicted person is an expert manipulator.  If he or she complains about mistreatment, loneliness, or claiming to be “cured”, it’s likely they just want to get out and go get high.

In many cases, loved ones of a person in rehab have some leverage over the individual.  The leverage could be financial, legal, or emotional.  This puts the person in a position to need “permission” to leave treatment early because they don’t want to jeopardize those perks.  So, they do their best to sound convincing by making promises they know they can’t keep.

Why is Leaving Rehab Early a Bad Idea?

Quitting a treatment program too soon can be a bad idea for many reasons. Generally, leaving rehab before 30 days is too early.  Leaving early also means the individual is checking out against medical advice (AMA).  So, what are some of their excuses for leaving early, and what are the consequences?

Leaving Rehab Within the First Day or Two

The individual claims that they can’t deal with being away from friends, family, or romantic partners.  Also, withdrawals have started, and the physical and mental cravings are intense.  As a result, the person wants to escape the emotional and physical discomfort.

It’s not a good idea to leave treatment during withdrawals because some symptoms can be deadly.  Furthermore, many individuals who leave rehab too soon suffer fatal overdoses. However, an experienced detox facility can monitor and manage the dangerous aspects of withdrawal to ensure the person’s safety and comfort.

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Leaving Rehab After 7 to 14 Days

Treatment providers agree that if a person wants to leave after 7 to 14 days in treatment, its usually for one or two reasons.  One reason is that the individual thinks he or she survived detox and is “cured”.  The other reason is that they want to resume using their substance of choice.

What makes someone want to begin using again right after detox?  Part of the reason is that their old negative feelings resurfaced now that they are sober.  Without drugs or alcohol to numb their mind and mask the emotions, the stress or pain returns, and the person can’t cope.  So, using again seems to be the best option because it’s what they’re accustomed to doing.

Of course, the person who wants to leave rehab early won’t tell loved ones that they want and need to use drugs or alcohol.  What they do is make up wild stories.

For instance:

  • The facility is dirty, unsanitary, and it smells.
  • Dead bugs are in the food.
  • The staff is mean and they hate me.
  • My roommate is crazy.
  • People are using drugs in here.
  • The security guard made a pass at me.

How should you respond to these claims and convince your loved one to remain in treatment?

Keeping Your Loved One in Rehab

Of course, it won’t be easy to ignore the excuses for leaving rehab early.  You don’t want your loved one to suffer.  But, it’s important to remember that continuing to use drugs or alcohol will cause more suffering than they can imagine.  It’s vital that he or she remains in treatment for the duration of the program to ensure lasting recovery.  So, what do you say if you get that phone call?

Experts suggest that you buy some time.  Tell your loved one that you will try to find another facility where he or she can continue treatment.  While you’re doing this research, it gives your loved one time to calm down.  Their urgency to leave is often due to cravings, but those will ease if given a few hours.

It’s important to note that most people leaving rehab early will not return to that facility or any other.  So, it’s crucial that you do all you can to convince your loved one to remain in rehab.  Once the process is complete, and your loved one returns home healthier and sober, it’s worth all the effort.

To learn more about addiction treatment, contact us at A Forever Recovery today.


  • –  Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
  • –  Loss of Tolerance and Overdose Mortality After Inpatient Opiate Detoxification

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