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How Can I Help a Loved One Who Left Rehab Against Medical Advice (AMA)

leave rehab against medical advice

Making the decision to enter addiction treatment is never easy. However, it is the best decision someone can make for themselves. While addiction treatment can save lives, sometimes the things that go along with it become overwhelming for a person who isn’t ready. This is why some people leave rehab early and against medical advice (AMA).

Almost every treatment center has patients that leave AMA at some point. Unfortunately, when a patient leaves rehab early, they are at extreme risk of relapsing.

This can be especially dangerous for individuals who attempt to use the same amount of substances that they did during their addiction, as their body has no tolerance built up. As a result, this puts people at an increased risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

If your loved one has left rehab against medical advice, you may be wondering how you can help them. While you cannot force them to go back to addiction treatment, there are some things you can do to push them in the right direction.

Why Do People Leave Rehab Against Medical Advice (AMA)?

There are a variety of reasons that your loved one may choose to leave rehab against medical advice. First, let’s explain exactly what it means to leave AMA. Leaving against medical advice means that your loved one signed themselves out of rehab before finishing their program, going against the advice of their doctors.

The most common reason your loved one may choose to leave rehab early is that they didn’t want to go to treatment in the first place. Many people give in to the desires of their loved ones, rather than going to an addiction treatment facility out of their own desires to get sober. Once treatment begins to get difficult, this causes them to give up.

Another reason they may leave rehab early is that they cannot handle their withdrawal symptoms. This is especially common for people who experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which are symptoms that last long after the normal timeline of withdrawal. They begin to believe that leaving rehab will provide them with relief, as they will be able to continue using substances to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Other reasons your loved one may choose to leave rehab AMA include:

  • Denial
  • Being homesick
  • Worrying about losing their job
  • Overconfidence in sobriety
  • Being afraid to face their past traumas
  • Fear of dealing with emotions without the help of substances

How Can I Help Someone Who Left Rehab AMA?

Helping your loved one after they leave treatment early can be difficult, especially if they are in denial about their need for help. However, there are some ways that you can motivate them to give sobriety another shot.

Here are a few ways you can help someone who left rehab against medical advice.

Remind Them Why They Went to Rehab

The first thing you should do is attempt to remind them of the reasons they attended rehab in the first place. However, it is important for you to stay calm and supportive, rather than being accusatory and causing them to become defensive or shut down.

Ways to remind your loved one why they went to rehab in the first place:

  • Telling them about all of the consequences their addiction has caused them
  • Setting boundaries regarding their substance abuse and sticking to them
  • Emotionally appealing to them by telling them how their addiction has affected you
  • Reminding them that you are there for them no matter what and you just want to see them happy and safe

Contact Their Treatment Center

It is important for you to contact their treatment center to let them know how your loved one is doing. While the treatment center cannot force your loved one to return to treatment, they can reach out to them.

Additionally, they can give you advice on tactics that have worked for your loved one during treatment. This can help you find creative ways to convince your loved one to return to their recovery program.

Practice Self-Care

It is extremely important for you to continue practicing your own self-care techniques during this time. Watching a loved one leave rehab AMA is never easy and it is probably causing you a high level of stress and worry. If you are not feeling healthy, it will be difficult for you to help your loved one.

Additionally, continuing to practice self-care during tough times sets a great example for your loved one. This is especially true if your loved one left treatment because it got difficult for them. Showing them that it is okay to need a little extra help could motivate them to return to their recovery program.

  • Contact your insurance provider and ask them which facilities are in-network with your insurance plan.
  • Speak to an admissions counselor and let them verify your insurance.

Consider an Intervention

Lastly, if you cannot convince your loved one to attend treatment on your own, it may be time to consider an intervention. Interventions are family meetings facilitated by an addiction expert with the goal of convincing your loved one to go to rehab.

When your loved one leaves rehab AMA, they are at an increased risk of relapsing and overdosing. Hosting an intervention could prevent them from relapsing and motivate them to give recovery another shot.

leaving rehab against medical advice

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

Finding Help for Addiction and Alcoholism

Addiction and alcoholism are chronic and progressive diseases, meaning relapses are common. If your loved one has relapsed, it is important that they return to treatment as soon as possible. While convincing them to attend treatment can be difficult, it is worth it.

Contact Woburn Addiction Treatment Center today for more information on our addiction and alcoholism treatment programs.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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