Few people ever say recovering from an addiction is easy. On the other hand, if often feels that just as things are turning around, just when a loved one is finally getting somewhere in recovery, everything unravels. These sudden lapses into bad decisions seem to come out of nowhere. Things were going so great! What happened?
One explanation is that recovery is all about change. In early recovery, no two days in a row feel the same and each day brings back new memories of episodes in his or her life the addict would love to forget. There are mistakes made while living as an addict. And there are early traumas that prompted the addiction in the first place. Suddenly, these memories come charging back and, along with them, repressed feelings of pain, anger, guilt, and sadness arise.
Due to this, it is common that suddenly an addict will find a reason to leave rehab before it is advised to do so. This is called leaving “against medical advice.” There is some common rationalizations addict try to use to get out of rehab. Sometimes they leave because they feel they are suddenly sober and clean and nothing hurts – so why should they be in a hospital-like setting? Wrong with leaving? Sometimes they feel the opposite. Addiction is too hard, so they want out.
Here are some of the common excuses addicts use to leave rehab:
- “This is so easy, I can do it on my own.”
- “The staff here doesn’t understand me.”
- “They have rules here that are meaningless and stupid.”
- “Something just happened. I’m needed elsewhere.”
- “This is the same old stuff that didn’t work last time.”
- “All these people do is whine all the time.”
- “My kids/boss/family/classmates/team/dog needs me.”
- “The food here stinks.”
- “My roommate is terrible.”
- “I’ve put you/my family/my friends through enough as it is.”
- “I can quit later.”
- “I can’t afford this.”
- “You didn’t meet the conditions I have for being here.”
In some ways, all of these excuses might be viewed as the bounce addicts feel after hitting bottom.
Hitting bottom is the term given to the reason or reasons an addict no long can continue as an addict. Things have gotten so bad that the addict finally has no other options but to go through recovery.
Then, a week into rehab, things don’t seem that bad. The horrible reason that prompted them to go to rehab doesn’t seem as atrocious as it did when they hit bottom. Maybe, the addict thinks, there is something I can do or say to get off this recovery process.
And, sadly, it sometimes works. It’s not that rehab staff or loved ones are taken in by the excuse; that seems very unlikely. And rehab staff, as you can imagine, have certainly heard all the excuses and then some.
On the other hand, a recovering addict needs large doses of reality. They need to know the repercussions of their actions. They need to know how leaving early will put their recovery in serious jeopardy. They need to know the impact leaving will have on their personal relationships. And they need to know how leaving will impact their insurance company’s willingness to allow them to go into rehab again in the future.
They also need to know how the rehab service will react to their early departure. Certainly, the best response to these excuses is to tell the struggling addict the truth. You should also seek help from the rehabilitation staff, who have lots of experience dealing with these types of excuses.