Don’t Give Up: Risk Factors of Individuals Who May Drop Out of Treatment Early

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Whether it’s you or a loved one who has recently began a treatment program for an addiction or mental illness, anxiety and overwhelming feelings may be at the forefront of your heart and mind. It’s normal to feel apprehensive – after all, it’s a completely new experience, one that you may not be sure you’re ready for. However, completing treatment is essential to your success in recovery, and identifying some of the risk factors for wanting to leave treatment early could help you overcome these thoughts and/or feelings.

A 2018 study published in Qualitative Social Work interviewed 15 males and females aged 19 to 29 years old to explore patients’ own understanding of their drop out from residential substance use disorder treatment. The following were the themes found:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Difficult feelings such as experienced when dealing with a break up, as well as inability to cope healthily with feelings such as emptiness
  • Lack of contact with staff at the treatment center
  • Lack of activities at the treatment center

Some participants viewed their drop out as temporary or a “break”, while others understood their drop out to be “quitting” treatment altogether. It’s important to remember that your first few weeks in a treatment program are going to be quite challenging; studies have shown that drug cravings are quite intense for the first weeks to month of treatment because the mind and body are adjusting to sobriety. Furthermore, difficult feelings will be harder to cope with because you’re no longer using substances or engaging in self-harming behaviors – staying in treatment is even more critical so that you can work with a therapist to develop healthier alternatives.

The right treatment center will provide a lot of social support – there will be members of a healthcare team whom you can lean on, a therapist, group leaders, and more. In this particular study, it was mentioned that the treatment center was undergoing a management transition, which explains why some of the staff members may not have been fully aware of the challenges their clients were experiencing. Lastly, activities are incredibly important to recovery success. A reputable treatment center should provide a plethora of activities – such as meditation, yoga, writing, physical fitness groups, aqua activities, acupuncture, psychodrama, ropes courses, and more.

If you feel like leaving treatment, speak with your therapist and treatment team to find out what needs to change. Oftentimes reinforcement or a subtle change in your regime is needed to help you feel more comfortable with where you’re at. Don’t give up – it’s worth it.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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