Valid reasons for leaving treatment early will only come from the collective decisions of the professionals doing the treating.
Getting a loved one into treatment is sometimes a difficult feat to accomplish without an intervention. What families don’t often realize is that the real difficulties can begin once their loved one has entered a treatment center. Good treatment programs have an expectation for change for the addict. Once the addicted individual has entered treatment they quickly come to an understanding that change is eminent. For an addict, change can elicit very real feelings of fear. Here are some of the top “reasons” that addicts will commonly use to justify leaving treatment early.
- Detox/Withdrawal symptoms are too uncomfortable. Let me first say that the physical symptoms of withdrawal are very real. The body’s dependence on such substances as opiates, benzodiazepines, or alcohol can be significant. Much of this depends on the frequency, quantity and length of time using these substances. Many times a medically supervised detox experience is needed before treatment can begin. Many good programs also have licensed detox programs on the same property as the treatment program. What is more significant is the minds capacity to convince the addict that leaving the detox unit is the answer to the problem. The addicts need to avoid discomfort is remarkable. The mind will convince them with whatever deception necessary that using is the only way to find relief, and they believe the lie that leaving treatment is the only answer.
- “They can’t teach me anything I don’t already know” is a big reason for leaving treatment early, particularly for those who had multiple treatment episodes.” If all that was required for sobriety was knowledge, addiction would have been eradicated long ago. Knowledge alone is not powerful enough to change the life of an addict. What is truly needed is a spiritual experience. By that I mean an experience that brings with it sufficient power to change our personality. Step 12 begins, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…”So the purpose of the 12 steps is not to educate us, but to provide a spiritual experience that will awaken us.
- “I’m not like these people,” denying qualification, is another big excuse used when leaving treatment early. Some addicts believe that because their experience with drugs or alcohol was different than that of others that the solution must be different as well. The fact is addiction is the same for all of us. Sometimes we get lost in the difference of the details and forget the similarities in the underlying feelings. Whether an addict is a corporate executive or a young person just getting out of jail the feelings are the same. All of us understand the feelings of loneliness, self doubt, fear, resentment, anger and shame. These are universal for all addicts and can be useful in allowing us to help one another in early recovery.
- “I can do this on my own.” There is nothing more powerful in recovery than one addict helping another. Many addicts are fearful of what will happen if they allow themselves to become vulnerable. One of our biggest fears is that others will see us the way we see ourselves. To quote Einstein, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” In recovery we require the experience of others to help us solve our problems. If we refuse to get honest and vulnerable with others, long term sobriety will be very unlikely.
The number of excuses that an addict will use in leaving treatment early and return to using are countless. These are some of the most common. Having some support during your loved ones treatment experience can be very helpful in not becoming fooled by these deceptions.