June 3, 2019 Felicia Durling

When a Loved One Leaves Rehab Early: What You Should Do

Meeting Of Support Group

You remember so clearly the moment when your loved one decided to go to rehab.

You felt like you finally had a chance to get the person you knew back, and you were so excited about their future. They checked into an excellent treatment center where you knew they would get the support they needed.

In short: things seemed so positive.

But now, your loved one says that they’re planning on leaving rehab early before they’ve completed their treatment.

You’re angry, devastated, and confused. You don’t know what to say or do.

But with relapse rates anywhere from 40-60%, addicts who decide to leave treatment early is, sadly, a common scenario.

This post is here to help you know how to take care of yourself, and support the addict in your life.

1. Establish Boundaries

When you first had an intervention or convinced the addict you love to search for “drug rehab near me” online, you likely came up with a few boundaries and ultimatums.

For example, perhaps you told them that you would no longer allow them to live with you unless they agreed to get help.

Maybe you wouldn’t help them with basic tasks like getting groceries. Perhaps you told them that, if they didn’t seek treatment, you’d stop giving them money or even taking their phone calls.

Yes, these boundaries were likely extremely painful for you — and something you hoped you wouldn’t have to enforce.

But you need to show the addict that you were sincere. They have decided to leave treatment, and you must enforce the original boundaries you put into place.

Connect with other friends and family members of the addict to support one another, and make sure that everyone is on the same page about their treatment of the addict.

Stop with the enabling.

It may convince them to give rehab one more try.

2. Connect with the Treatment Center

In most cases, the rehab where your loved one was in treatment will reach out to you to let you know that they have decided to leave treatment.

It’s important to ask as many questions as you can — but keep in mind that many things discussed in therapy sessions are completely confidential.

Still, the treatment team will be able to tell you when they left treatment, and perhaps fill you in on some of the addict’s reasons for doing so. If the addict has disappeared, they may also be able to help you find out where they are.

Remember that addicts, in the vast majority of cases, are not allowed to “re-enter” the same rehab program once they’ve left treatment. (Because it poses a risk for other people in treatment with them.)

You should instead speak with an addiction counselor about what your next steps should be.

They have (unfortunately) lots of experience in dealing with this scenario. They can offer you tips about how to enforce boundaries, and talk to you about how you can encourage the addict to get treatment again in the future.

3. Get Help for Yourself

When someone you love leaves rehab, you experience countless emotions.

You may feel that you’re to blame — what if you pushed them too hard before they were truly ready?

You’ll likely feel furious with the addict — how could they fail you and themselves in this way, especially after you all bent over backward for them?

You need to seek out some healing for yourself. Remember, you didn’t cause their addiction, and you cannot control it, either.

Look into local Al-Anon meetings or Narc-Anon meetings. There, you can meet with other family members and friends of addicts. Being around people who know exactly what you’re going through is essential when it comes to your healing process — no matter what happens with the addict.

4. Talking to the Addict

Depending on your boundaries and even your relationship to the addict, chances are high that one of you will try to contact the other once they’ve left treatment.

Knowing the right and wrong way to respond is incredibly important — and also extremely emotionally challenging.

You feel upset and betrayed, the addict may feel abandoned or ashamed that they couldn’t make it through treatment. You’re both incredibly fragile.

Approach the addict with a firm but compassionate air.

Explain that, while your boundaries prevent you from doing certain things for them, you still care about them.

Reinforce the fact that you still believe in their ability to get clean. Remind them that the door for another treatment option is still open.

If the addict says they’re looking into “outpatient rehab near me,” do your best to find a good option. Perhaps outpatient is a better choice for them because they found closed treatment limiting, or simply too frightening.

Remind your loved one of the reasons why they decided to seek treatment, and that they won’t get their old life back unless they commit to healing.

Leaving Rehab Isn’t the End for an Addict

When someone you care about leaves rehab, it’s disheartening for everyone involved.

However, there are still options. Don’t give up on the addict yet, and most importantly, don’t allow them to give up on themselves. They can still get clean and sober.

They just need to find the right treatment center to make it happen.

That’s where we come in.

We offer a wide variety of addiction treatment services.

Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help the person you care so much about to get their life back.


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