Drug treatment or addiction treatment is not fun. Very few people enter an inpatient rehab or an intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment center riding the crest of the wave of life. Most people enter a detox or rehab getting pulled in by the undertow. Many people that enter addiction treatment do want to get clean and sober, they do want to change their lives and they willingly accept treatment. However, many more people do not want to be in treatment, feel they have been coerced by their families or friends, are only their to get the law, their employer or their loved ones off their back or have entered treatment to stop consequences from occurring but have no sincere desire to actually stop using drugs or drinking.

For that second group of people, treatment eventually will become too much for them to deal with or simply too overwhelming. They will become restless, irritable and discontented with their involvement in treatment. Even though substance abuse treatment is a key in helping someone to recover from their addiction, those people that do not want to be in treatment will eventually look for any “out” they have in order to shorten the process or leave altogether. Forgetting that addiction is a chronic, progressive, ultimately fatal illness if left untreated, those resistant to treatment will begin to have more important priorities. Things like work, friends, social events and vacations will come up and involvement in those activities will be thought of as more important than the addiction treatment for the life and death illness the patient is dealing with in their life. Bills, work, family, significant others, relaxation. Eventually the patient will see the substance abuse treatment as getting in the way of these things. Although these things would always take a backseat to drugs and alcohol in the past, the patient will often feel that now that they are a few weeks or months removed from substances that they are entitled to have a normal life that includes these things and the treatment of their fatal disease becomes secondary.

These resistant, often angry patients have all types of excuses why they end up needing to leave drug and alcohol treatment early. Here are the top 5 excuses that patients have for leaving addiction treatment early. Family members and friends should always take heed when their loved one is making these excuses in order to leave treatment early.


  1. “I have priorities.” This will often refer to something like work or family and children. Yes, those are highly important priorities, but in this case the saying “whatever you put in front of your recovery you will lose” would apply. It’s delusional for a patient that has just kicked a seven year heroin addiction to then sit up at 3 weeks clean and declare their intention that they MUST return to work. Or the mom that was smoking crack for 5 years at two weeks in treatment who now needs to go home “to be a mom” to her kids. Yes, she does but do you know what will allow her to be a mom to her kids? That’s right, NOT smoking crack and doing so by dealing with the underlying issues of why she was smoking crack in the first place. Does two weeks in treatment seem like a long enough time to do all that? No, neither does she. It’s just an excuse.
  2. “I don’t like it here.” This is typically used in conjunction with “I don’t like the people here”, usually a reference to both staff and other patients. Oh, you don’t like it here in drug rehab? No shit. Here’s a little hint for you: NO ONE LIKES IT IN DRUG REHAB! At least not in the beginning. For those patients that embrace treatment and the opportunity to change their lives for the better, substance abuse treatment will often become an amazing experience for them, creating bonds with staff and other patients and it will become the place that they started their miracle journey of recovery. For patients that are resistant, they will hate treatment. They will hate the treatment center, the staff, the other patients. They will complain about everything: the staff, the amenities, the schedule, the groups, the food. Patients that don’t want to be in treatment will find anything they can to dislike the experience and use it as an excuse to leave early.
  3. “I’m not like them!” This is typically used in reference to the other patients. The white collar crack smoking banker looks down on the blue collar alcoholic. Or a patient will “compare out” with the other patients, such as “I only took prescription pills. I didn’t shoot heroin. I’m not as bad as that person” or “I only stole to get money for drugs but THAT girl prostituted herself, so she’s much worse than me!” These opportunities to compare out and not identify with the other patients will grow until the resistant patient comes to the conclusion that “I’m not like these people. I’m better than they are. I don’t need to be here.” (Hint: Yes, you are like these people, you’re not better than they are and this type of thinking is PRECISELY why you DO need to be here.) This is a common excuse and one not rooted in reality.
  4. “I’ve been to rehab before, so I won’t learn anything new.” This excuses goes hand-in-hand with the ever popular “I could lead these groups”. Sure, you’ve been to ten other IOPs and a couple inpatient rehabs. You probably COULD lead some groups. You can’t stay clean and sober. You can’t seem to stop spending your kids food money on pills. You have all that information but can’t stop smoking crack. All those treatment centers and all that money and all that time hasn’t taught you to not be so arrogant and to sit down and shut up, huh? Seems like a rather expensive non-education you’re getting there. Here’s a secret: A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE IN REHAB HAVE BEEN TO TREATMENT BEFORE. YOU’RE NEITHER UNIQUE NOR IMPRESSING ANYONE. Everyone that has been to drug rehab before has been given knowledge about addiction and recovery. However, let’s look at the truth: That same patient is BACK in treatment and are complaining that they KNOW TOO MUCH. How ironic. Having been to substance abuse treatment before and having knowledge of addiction treatment does not mean the resistant patient doesn’t need treatment again. The fact that they are back in treatment is all the evidence you need to know they should not only stay in treatment, but probably for an extended period of time. Knowing too much or having already been to treatment in the past is not a valid excuse to leave a treatment center early.
  5. Extenuating Circumstances. This is the most ridiculous reason used as an excuse to leave treatment early. Typically this would fall under one of the following: Family vacation, event such as a wedding or graduation, death in the family, birth of a child, big work meeting. These are life events that patients use to put a halt to their treatment and often, if they do attend one of these events, they do not return to rehab. “Look how well I did at the wedding! I didn’t drink. I’m good. I don’t need to go back to treatment.” Oh, you didn’t drink one night for one wedding? So fucking what? A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T DRINK AT WEDDINGS! NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE GO TO REHAB BECAUSE THEY’VE HAD 9 DUI’S AND GOT ARRESTED WITH CRACK! GET BACK IN THAT CHAIR! Just not drinking for one occasion is not proof that you’re better or healthier or have conquered your addiction. Additionally, the arrogance to think that a planned vacation or your nephews graduation is grounds to leave the treatment you’re receiving for your fatal disease is ridiculous. Oh, your family will be mad if you don’t show up? Want to bet they’ll be even more mad when you steal $10k from them because you relapsed. These extenuating life circumstances may be important, but not more important than drug and alcohol treatment. Leaving because of them is just another excuse.


Alcoholism and drug addiction are chronic, progressive, ultimately fatal illnesses if left untreated. This means they get worse, never better. The excuses listed above are just the most common out of hundreds of petty reasons a resistant patient could use to leave addiction treatment early. It is important that family members and loved ones are aware of these excuses. This is what makes family involvement in treatment key to a patient’s recovery outcome. It is why here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center we believe in engaging a patient’s family immediately upon admission and keep them engaged throughout a patient’s treatment. So a patient is unable to use these excuses in order to leave treatment and so the family will be prepared when they do and redirect them to receive the life-saving treatment they need to recover from their addiction.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and needs treatment please call us for help. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the area. If we aren’t the best fit, we will work with you to find a treatment center that fits your needs. Please call us at (410) 773-0500 or email info@marylandaddictionrecovery.com. For more information on all of our alcohol and addiction treatment services and resources, please visit the web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.

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