Inpatient rehab is often the first step that anyone serious about getting help for their addition takes. Inpatient means that you are staying at a rehab facility, anywhere from one month to one year (more or less depending on the facility’s program), with limited contact with the outside world.
The point of inpatient rehab is to provide those in treatment a safe place to begin their recovery. Many facilities have a detox unit onsite, or individuals transfer to inpatient immediately after detox. Patients “live” at the facility, and they get meals provided, a bed to sleep in, medical and counseling with a group of other recovering addicts. Sometimes, rehabs will allow for outside twelve-step meetings to come into the facility and arrange for family visitation days.
The question is, are you allowed to leave inpatient addiction treatment? The truth is, it depends on what you mean by “leave” and for how long.
It Depends on Your Circumstance
First of all, let’s define the word “leave.” If you mean, can you leave for fifteen minutes on your own and return? The answer is usually no, not without supervision from staff or a supporting agency (such as probation if you have court). You cannot leave inpatient rehab to walk to the gas station and get a candy bar. You can’t walk off-premise to meet a friend or family member to say hello.
If there is a reason that you have to leave, such as an outside medical appointment or court, there is a possibility the rehab can provide supervision. If you need to attend a funeral or family emergency, there may be a chance you are allowed to leave, but can also be a chance you will not be allowed back in. The time you spend in inpatient is an investment and a sacrifice. It would be best if you were willing to commit to staying on-premises.
If you define the word “leave,” meaning to sign yourself out ultimately, the circumstance will determine your ability again. If you are self-referred, you can leave the facility for good at any time at your own will. However, you will not be able to leave if you go from jail to inpatient (commonly referred to as bed-to-bed). The rehab can contact the authorities. The same goes for if a family member brings you. You may be able to leave, but the second you walk out the door, you will have to face the consequences of doing so.
Linked to the Outside World
Why do patients need to remain onsite at an inpatient rehab? The main reason is that recovery means changing people, places, and things. Once the pain of withdrawal is over, some people believe they cured their addiction. Or, if they are in the beginning stages of their recovery, the itch to use may be too much. A quick run to the gas station could mean picking up a beer that you just got done detoxing from- or meeting up with someone you know for a quick fix. Staying in the rehabilitation center allows you to begin to gain some experience with recovery so that you have some tools under your belt when the time comes for you to re-enter the outside world.
A patient leaving is also a safety concern for other residents who are living at the rehabilitation center. If you go to the gas station and come back high or smell like alcohol, you put other individuals at risk. Many individuals attending inpatient have a desire to quit using- and they may not be ready to be confronted with such things.
Finally, recovery is about being able to focus on yourself. You may be craving a cigarette or sneaking out to see your lover. However, these may be things that you are still addicted to and may not believe that you are. By committing to inpatient recovery, you turn everything over in your life that may be causing unmanageability- not just what you pick and choose. Sometimes, testing the waters of your addiction can be enough for you to lose everything you have gained recovery-wise in the short amount of time that you have been there.
The Consequences of Leaving Inpatient Treatment
You may not think it is a big deal. You may not think you are ready for such a commitment. However, you have the support you need to make it through, and following the rules of the treatment center is an excellent way to begin practicing a new way of life. Following regulations you disagree with is always tricky when you start recovery, but there are reasons for them.
There are several consequences that you may deal with by leaving inpatient treatment. Most importantly, you will not be getting the recovery that you sought out in the first place. Second, you are tempting fate and potentially diving right back into the mess that you came. Finally, you may face more severe consequences by leaving- such as issues with the law or your family. Whether for ten minutes or good, leaving an inpatient before your treatment has ended never turns out well. Call 302-842-2390.