Our culture has a fixation with individualism. Although “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” may seem like a brave and noble idea in theory, it seems less enticing when it ends up with a relapsed addict slumped against a wall after an OD. Some clinical disorders (like addiction) simply can’t be solved alone. And there is no shame in that. We hear stories all the time about families begging addicts to get help. As a society, we have collectively accepted the necessity of rehab. So why do recovering addicts in treatment still find themselves leaving against clinical advice?
Prolonging the Inevitable
“I’d like to stay, but I still have one more run in me!” Sound familiar?
This is an excuse. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Although addiction is a disease, recovering addicts must be held responsible for their decisions. Saying you have “one more run” attempts to abdicate this responsibility and avoid blame.
There is no point where an addict “runs out” of the urge to use. Compulsive behaviors are a hallmark of the disease that don’t cease on their own. Treatment provides the resources to address these compulsions to use, so putting off treatment just prolongs the inevitable.
Access to the Outside World
Everyone comes to rehab with baggage. Both literally and emotionally. But leaving against clinical advice usually means you’re lugging that emotional baggage back into the outside world. It’s counter intuitive to say the least.
There’s no doubt that rehab puts limits on your freedom. It’s a necessary sacrifice to get well. Those limitations allow people in recovery to distance themselves from distractions. Consider how these aspects of your life contribute to stress levels:
- Cell phone
- Friends (and enablers)
- Significant others
Now consider how getting some breathing room from these intimate connections would make room to focus on unpacking emotional baggage rather than lugging it back out into the world. First and foremost, recovery requires putting yourself first. And that means limiting access to the outside world. Although codependent relationships may push back, most loved ones can understand the importance of healthy distance in early recovery.
Leaving Against Clinical Advice with New “Friends”
Anyone who encourages you to leave rehab against clinical advice is not your friend. Even if that person is going through rehab with you.
This seems pretty obvious from the outside looking in. But when you’re in a treatment setting firsthand, fellowship with other recovering addicts often obfuscates certain truths. Friendships can seem more real than the grind of daily therapy. And when you spend enough time with someone who shares a similar history, you risk conflating camaraderie with wisdom.
So when a new friend proposes leaving treatment with them, remember this: their ideas about your recovery do not have the same merit as the clinicians who guide your program. They do not understand your needs as an individual, and are more than likely acting out of their own self-interest.
Finding Your Way Back
Many people experience a sense of shame and embarrassment after leaving against clinical advice doesn’t work out as planned. It almost always ends in relapse. And the desire to return to treatment gets curtailed by those fears.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all come to the table with the understanding that treatment is a journey, not a destination. So there is no shame in returning to rehab after leaving against clinical advice. If you or a loved one is seeking help for addiction, our counselors are available 24/7 to talk: (833) 433-0448