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Destructive Thoughts: Why Addicts Leave Rehab Early

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Getting someone you care about to go to an addiction treatment center can be very difficult, and in some cases, it can be even more difficult to convince them to stay. It can be frustrating to watch a loved one risk their lives by denying treatment for reasons that don’t make sense to a sober person. While you can’t force them to stay, you can prepare the addict with what to expect and ways to respond to situations that may tempt them to leave rehab against medical advice. Here are some common reasons why addicts leave rehab early and practical ways to help them avoid such distructive thought patterns.

"I can’t handle detox."

It’s fairly well known that the detox process, depending on the level of addiction, is the most physically demanding program in the treatment process. For the first time in probably a while, the addict is left without their coping mechanism: drugs and/or alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms, intense cravings, and unfamiliar surroundings combine to overwhelm the addict with anxiety. Irrational thinking can set in to cause him or her to wonder why they are putting themselves through such a process, or that maybe they were better off on drugs.

Prevention Strategy: Make sure the reality of detox doesn’t catch the addict by surprise, and do what you can to inform and encourage them. Make sure they know how detox has various medications and therapies available to improve comfort. Encourage them to get involved with peers, and develop an honest relationship with their therapist early on so the addict doesn’t become isolated, and professionals can help them to push through the trial.  

"My problem isn’t as bad as theirs."

It's not abnormal for an addict to minimize the power and influence of their addiction. By ignoring their disease, they are believing a lie which allows them to think they are superior to other addicts. Putting up emotional walls to make it possible to avoid examining their condition rightly, and remain blind to their need for help.

Prevention Strategy: Prior to entering a rehab facility, it’s in the best interest of the addict to find a place where they can be in the company of like-minded peers, who are going through similar battles. Most treatment programs have a stage of counseling where addicts learn how to recognize similarities as oppose to scrutinizing differences. Do your research, or a help your loved one find a place that offers treatment programs unique to their needs.

"I've heard all this already."

Addiction treatment programs often have recurring themes throughout the entire process. This is because one of the best ways to learn is through repetition. It can take two or three times for the addict to truly embrace recovery principal. This excuse can also be used by those who have a difficult time engaging emotionally with therapy lessons that bring up painful memories of their past.

Prevention Strategy: What the addict needs to know about recovery, is that there is always more to be learned about recovery. A good way to prove it is for them to attend meetings where guests speakers come to share about their own battles and victories over addiction. This way, the addict can get new perspectives on alternative methods of therapy, helpful ways to maintain a life of sobriety, and hear about what is likely to happen if they do decide to leave rehab early.

"I can recover on my own."

This is a classic statement often made by addicts who are trying to avoid going to addiction treatment altogether. However, it is also common for addicts in rehab to claim when they cultivate an unhealthy confidence in rehab. It can take only seeing the initial results of sobriety in their health and mental clarity, for a recovering addict to assure themselves of their ability to stay sober. This overconfident idea of being “cured” of addiction can cause addicts to see little need for the remaining rehab process; resulting in anxious desires to return home to independent living.

Prevention Strategy: Decades of research has proven for the best chances lasting sobriety, an addict must stay in rehab for the entire program, or the length of time advised by medical professionals. If you or a loved one is displaying a “know it all” attitude, consider looking into other levels of treatment many treatment centers offer. Programs like outpatient addiction treatment is a level of care that allows patients to transition into more independent living in order to test their recovery skills, while still getting support from professionals.

Change can be difficult for an addict, but the consequences of stagnancy can be even harder. Addicts seeking recovery need full awareness of services and programs offered at the place they choose to rehab for assurance that their needs will be met. More so, addicts need the support of family, close friends, and a team of professionals to give them the best chance of pushing through the recovery process long enough to see the lasting rewards of addiction treatment.

Watch rehab testimonials from some of our Alumni who had the courage to see themselves through addiction treatment in our Stories of Hope.

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