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Can I Check Myself Out of a Rehab Center?

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Drug and alcohol addiction can impact every aspect of your life, from your mental and physical well-being to your relationships and more. Seeking addiction treatment is a life-affirming decision that can lead to a healthier future.

But the journey to addiction recovery is likely to be full of twists and turns. You may be tempted to give up entirely when you face setbacks or challenges. It’s essential to stay focused on your long-term health, relationships, and opportunities for the future.

But is it possible to check yourself out of rehab once you’ve started treatment? Some people may wonder what will happen if they decide to leave a treatment facility–and if they can be forced to continue a program once they’ve started.

This article will detail whether it’s possible to check yourself out of rehab and explore the potential complications that could arise from leaving treatment before completing your program. Reach out to the team at South Carolina Addiction Treatment for more information about our comprehensive treatment programs or to schedule an intake evaluation.

Can I Check Myself Out of Rehab?

Imagine this: You’ve started a rehab program and are making progress. After some time, you find the program too challenging or believe you no longer need constant supervision and support. Is it possible to check yourself out of rehab early?

When people refer to checking themselves out of rehab, it usually means leaving treatment before their program is complete. For most, this means before 30 days have passed. Leaving rehab early is also known as “against medical advice (AMA)” because the medical and psychological specialists have determined leaving treatment may cause harm.

The bottom line is that anyone can decide to leave rehab at any point. Attending addiction treatment is not a legal requirement in most cases, and people are free to check themselves out of rehab at any moment they choose.

Leaving treatment early is somewhat common, with an average of 17% of people deciding to check out of rehab before completing a treatment program. Loved ones and staff members may try to persuade someone to reconsider and remain in treatment, but it is ultimately up to each person to decide whether or not to continue in rehab.

Checking yourself out of rehab against medical advice can have other consequences. It’s crucial to be aware of the risks of leaving rehab early so that you can make informed decisions in your best interest.

What May Happen if I Check Myself Out of Rehab?

There are no legal consequences for leaving rehab before completing a treatment program, but there can be other severe complications and outcomes that arise from this decision.

Leaving rehab against medical advice can have severe short and long-term consequences for the addicted person and their loved ones. Understanding and considering these potential risks is essential to make the best decision.

Here are some of the consequences that may happen if you check yourself out of rehab against medical advice at each stage of the process.

Days 1-3

Leaving rehab after a few days is relatively common. People may struggle to adjust to a new environment, new rules, and the absence of their friends and family.

Many people also begin to experience the physical and emotional symptoms associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms can range in intensity and onset but generally start within the first 24-72 hours of the detox process.

For many, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Nightmares
  • Tremore
  • Excessive sweating
  • Flu-like symptoms

People may find the symptoms so uncomfortable that they choose to leave rehab and relapse immediately.

Relapsing after even a short period of sobriety is hazardous. A person’s tolerance to drugs and alcohol decreases quickly, and using these substances after a few days without them could result in a life-threatening overdose.

Week 1

For many, withdrawal symptoms begin to dissipate after about a week in detox. Some people may feel that detox alone is enough to help them stay sober for the rest of their lives. However, addiction is a complex condition that includes a person’s body, mind, environment, and behaviors. Without completing a comprehensive treatment program, it’s unlikely that people will develop the skills, knowledge, and habits to support long-term sobriety.

Leaving rehab after completing detox does not give people the time they need to address the underlying aspects of their substance abuse, including trauma, mental illness, or other factors.

Why Do People Check Themselves Out of Rehab?

People have many reasons for checking themselves out of rehab against medical advice. Here are some of the most common causes.

Ambivalence about recovery

Some people may agree to go to rehab because their loved ones insisted–but not because they wanted to go. People who enter rehab after being convinced by friends or family may not always have the level of commitment and dedication required to complete a treatment program.

Detox is too challenging

Many people feel overwhelmed by the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms during detox. People who leave rehab against medical advice are most likely to check themselves out once they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Emotional decision

Some people may use drugs and alcohol to cover up emotional discomfort. Once they are sober, they may feel the overwhelming sadness, guilt, anger, or grief they’ve been suppressing. They may check themselves out of rehab to use drugs or alcohol again and feel immediate relief.

It can be frustrating–and heartbreaking–to watch a loved one check themselves out of rehab early. It’s important to find your own support so that you can continue to support your loved one throughout the challenges and setbacks of their recovery journey.

Find Help Now

If you or a loved one are considering checking yourself out of rehab early, reach out to the team at South Carolina Addiction Treatment now. Our caring specialists can help you find the treatment and support you need at any stage of your recovery journey. Call now to learn more about our comprehensive programs or to schedule an intake assessment.