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What To Do When Someone Leaves Rehab Early

What To Do When Someone Leaves Rehab Early

Getting your loved one into substance abuse treatment isn’t easy.

Many individuals need the help of intervention specialists to convince their loved ones to go to an addiction treatment facility. You may have begged, pleaded, and cried over their problem. You’ve probably been there to help them get better, just to see them fall back into the cycle of substance abuse. When the person finally agreed to go to rehab, you may have felt as if a huge weight was lifted off your shoulders. While you think everything is going smoothly, they may call you asking to leave treatment early. If you’re in this position, our Massachusetts drug treatment center is offering some tips on what to do when someone leaves rehab early.


Top 3 Reasons Why People Leave Rehab Early


When a person leaves drug or alcohol rehab early, it’s considered a discharge against medical advice. There are several common reasons why someone would do this despite the danger and the hurt it can cause for themselves and their loved ones.


Withdrawal Symptoms


Drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol can cause very severe withdrawal symptoms. Undergoing detox is no walk in the park. Withdrawal symptoms can impact a person mentally and physically. Not only are they attempting to cut the emotional tie they may have with the substance in question, but their body is also reacting to the lack of a substance they used so often. The first week of treatment is often the most difficult and unsettling for a person in rehab. Withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and drug or alcohol cravings can cause the person to rationalize their drug or alcohol abuse, and the severe discomfort of these symptoms can discourage them from continuing the process. Detox treatments are medically monitored, though, meaning they provide safety and medication that can reduce the pain and discomfort of withdrawals.


Challenging Emotions


Your loved one may call you from rehab and tell you that they hate it there. They may attempt to blame others for their discomfort or make the facility seem like a horrible, unkempt place. They may say things like, “The staff is lazy,” or “The food is terrible.” While these allegations may be true in some circumstances, they’re often the result of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and emotional outbursts. PAWS is a prolonged period of withdrawal that can cause mood swings, irritability, anxiety, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and more. The individual may also be in addiction therapy and might be asked to share difficult memories and process negative emotions. If you worry about these possible issues, you can go check out the facility for yourself. It’s important to remain involved in the person’s treatment and work with the facility as much as you can. “Saving” the person by removing them from a rehab situation that’s doing what it promised will only enable their behavior.


“I Don’t Need Rehab, I’m Fine.”


While you may have convinced your loved one to receive drug or alcohol addiction treatment, they may not be fully committed. Many patients agree to go to rehab because they were pressured by their friends and family; however, recovery is a decision that needs to be made by the person. The worst thing you can do is pressure someone into doing something they never wanted to do. While this doesn’t mean you should stop trying to help them, it’s important to be mindful of how you go about it. People who didn’t make the conscious decision to be in treatment in the first place are more likely to leave rehab before treatment completion.


Our drug and alcohol rehab programs at Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts are centered around helping patients recover at their pace. Our desire is never to force patients into completing treatment but rather to offer them support and encouragement every step of the way. Leaving drug rehab early can be avoided when you go to a facility that has your loved one’s needs in mind.


What Happens if You Leave Rehab Early?


Overdose is a serious risk to those who leave drug rehab after only 7 to 14 days of treatment. Before receiving treatment, the person has built up a tolerance to the substance. They know how much they have to use to experience certain side effects and to avoid crossing that line. When the person goes to a treatment facility, they stop using this substance completely, losing that tolerance. People who return home from rehab before completing treatment may use the same amount they always did and overdose. Others may guess how much they used before, accidentally use too much, and die from an overdose. The longer the person stays in treatment, the less likely they are to return to drugs or alcohol, overdose, or relapse.


Tips on What to Do When Someone Leaves Rehab Early


Whether the person got kicked out of rehab (which is usually a result of something they did to get kicked out) or they chose to leave early, there are certain things you should and should not do.


  • Do not send them any money
  • Do not pick them up
  • Do not arrange transportation or housing for them
  • Do remind them why they went to rehab in the first place (don’t shame them but encourage them)
  • Do be firm about them staying at the facility for at least 12 to 24 hours after the phone call
  • Do find them another treatment center they can go to


A person getting out of rehab before completion increases their risk of overdose and makes it more difficult for them to recover the second time. If the person is adamant about not returning to rehab, however, there are ways you can support them from a distance. Stay in contact with them, visit them every so often, and constantly encourage them to return to treatment. Your efforts should go into finding a facility for them. Your behavior should never enable their drug or alcohol habits and should be geared towards getting them back to rehab. As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to rescue them.


Banyan Massachusetts is one of the several facilities belonging to Banyan Treatment Centers. We offer several levels of care in addition to substance-specific treatment and therapy programs. We’re dedicated to the health, safety, and sobriety of our patients. If you’re interested in our services for yourself or a loved one, call us now at 888-280-4763 for more information.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.