Drug and alcohol addiction can affect every aspect of your life. Living with untreated addiction can harm your physical health, strain your relationships, and chip away at your emotional well-being.

Choosing to treat addiction is one of the most life-affirming decisions you can make. Comprehensive treatment programs can give you the tools, support, and treatment you need to overcome the complex roots of your substance abuse. Participating in treatment can be the first step toward long-term recovery from addiction.

The road to recovery is not easy. Many people begin treatment and then quickly realize how challenging recovery can be. Some may be tempted to leave treatment early–but this can have severe consequences.

But is it possible to check yourself out of drug rehab? Some may wonder about the consequences of leaving a rehab program before they have completed treatment.

This article will explore the decision to leave drug treatment early. You will learn about the possible complications that can happen when someone leaves rehab against medical advice.

Contact the First Step Behavioral Health team to learn about our comprehensive treatment programs or to schedule an intake evaluation.

Can I Check Myself Out of Rehab?

People may want to leave rehab early for a variety of reasons. They may find rehab too challenging. They may believe they no longer need supervision and support. Or, people may live in denial about the severity of their addiction and believe they no longer need help.

When people talk about leaving rehab “early,” they mean leaving before completing their treatment plan. In most cases, leaving early means checking out of rehab before 30 days have passed or before your individual treatment plan is complete.

Some refer to leaving rehab early as leaving “against medical advice (AMA).” In these cases, mental health and medical experts have determined that leaving rehab may lead to harm.

So. is it possible to leave rehab early?

In short, yes, it is possible to leave rehab early. In most cases, people are not legally required to attend addiction treatment. People are free to check themselves out of rehab any time they choose.

Research shows that about 17% of people choose to check out of rehab before finishing a treatment program. Family and friends may attempt to convince their loved one to stay in treatment, but the decision is ultimately up to the person in rehab.

Checking out of a treatment center is possible, but doctors and addiction specialists typically advise against it. Before leaving rehab early, it is important to be aware of the risks and potential harm that may occur.

What Can Happen if You Check Yourself Out of Rehab Early?

In most cases, there are no legal consequences to leaving rehab against medical advice. However, there can be other severe consequences that stem from the decision to check out of rehab early.

Leaving rehab before treatment is complete can have consequences for the addicted person and their loved ones. It is crucial to consider the long-term implications of leaving rehab AMA.

Here is an overview of what could happen if you check yourself out of rehab early.


Many people struggle with intense withdrawal symptoms that make them feel miserable. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within hours or days of the last time you used drugs or alcohol. They often worsen during the first few days of detox. Some people may want to leave rehab because of the severity of their withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Flu-like symptoms

A detox program provides medical treatment and emotional support that can minimize withdrawal symptoms. This can help people have a safe, complete detox.


The intensity of withdrawal symptoms and lack of support can lead to a relapse. A relapse is especially dangerous after even a short period of sobriety. Tolerance is lower after just a few days without drugs or alcohol, and using them again puts people at risk of overdose.

Lack of support

Some people leave rehab immediately after detox is complete. They may believe that detox alone is enough to lead to long-term recovery.

However, most people need more support and treatment to maintain sobriety for life. Detox is an important step toward lifelong recovery–but it is only the first step.

Lasting recovery requires addressing the emotional and behavioral components of addiction, too. People with addiction cannot do this critical work in just a few days. Change requires time, patience, and plenty of support.

There are many reasons people leave rehab early. However, understanding the risks of checking out of rehab AMA is critical.

Completing a rehab program can give you the tools, support, and treatment you need to work toward a healthier, sober future.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love struggles with substance abuse or addiction, effective treatment is available at First Step Behavioral Health. Reach out to our intake specialists now to learn about our rehab center or to schedule an intake assessment.

Jump to a Section

Call (855) 425-4846