If your loved one has entered a treatment program, we want to congratulate you. This is a huge step forward in improving things for the addicted individual and your entire family. However, there is a specific problem that you should be aware of: after a week or two, many people try to get away with leaving drug rehab early. Here’s how you can counter your loved one’s urge to take off before their program has concluded.
Why Do People Try Leaving Drug Rehab Early?
It’s unfortunately very common for patients to leave residential rehab against medical advice. During the first few days of a program, it happens because the addicted individual realizes that they have been separated from the greatest love of their life: their substance of choice. It can be incredibly difficult to face the fact that by getting sober, they are giving up their solution to every one of life’s problems.
Others will stay in treatment until they’re done detoxing, then claim that they are healed and do not need to be there. Their ego rebuilds and they begin asking family members to “let” them leave. They promise that they have come up with many solutions and have figured out how to do things differently. In some cases, people say these things because they are looking to drink or use again. In others, they genuinely feel uncomfortable in the facility and want to go home.
This discomfort comes from sobering up and facing the consequences of their choices. Addiction is fueled by denial, and when the addicted individual can see things clearly, feelings of shame and guilt arise. To escape and get back to using, your loved one will employ all their tricks from active addiction; they’ll lie, convince you that treatment isn’t right for them, and manipulate you into allowing them to leave.
Be on the lookout for statements like the following:
- “The staff are so mean to me. They mistreat us and make us do chores.”
- “My roommates are hostile and I’m afraid.”
- “Everyone in here is using, and nobody knows.”
- “This place is filthy and loud. I can’t sleep here.”
- “The food is horrible. I’ll never make it 30 days in here.”
- “I already know everything they’re saying. I can do this on my own.”
- “There’s no reason to spend all this money for me to be here. I just want to come home.”
- “You can hold me accountable; I promise I won’t drink or use again.”
When this happens, you can offer to find your loved one another treatment center. If they refuse and begin making excuses for leaving drug rehab early altogether, you’ll know that their concerns aren’t founded in reality; instead, they’re just trying to get back on the streets. Here’s what you can do to push back on that type of manipulation.
Stage a Post-Admission Intervention
A post-admission intervention can dispel your loved one’s arguments and motivate them to stay in their program. This process consists of each impacted individual—every family member and friend—writing a letter to the addicted person. Be mindful of what is said and what is not said in these notes. They should be loving and never unkind, but at the same time, they should clearly set and convey your boundaries.
By communicating that you will not enable your loved one if they leave treatment, you are removing their perceived options. While they may have once convinced themselves that you would take them in, for example, you can clearly articulate that this will not happen if they go AWOL.
Other boundaries should include withdrawn financial support and refusal to transport them. When your loved one understands that leaving treatment won’t mean an immediate return to the way things were, they will be more likely to adhere to their program for its full duration.
Support and Coaching for Families
Intervention On Call provides comprehensive consultations for family members seeking to hold a post-admission intervention. This process takes about two hours—one to provide the format and guidelines, and another to edit your letters and offer direction for how and where to present them. If you need help motivating your loved one to complete their program, contact Intervention On Call and make your first appointment today.