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Can I Get Kicked Out of Rehab?

Getting over addiction is never easy. That means rehab isn’t easy either. The structure, emotional vulnerability and lack of substances to mute feelings can clash with the lifestyle of addiction you’ve been leading.

If you are struggling to get into a groove with your treatment program, you may be wondering if you can get kicked out of rehab for one of two reasons:

1. You want to get kicked out of rehab. You’re looking for the quickest way to be sent home.

If you’re trying to get kicked out, consider your alternatives. If your stay was court-ordered, do you really want to see what the court orders next?

If your family drew a line in the sand and said you needed addiction treatment or you’d have to face serious relational consequences, are you ready for those consequences?

Maybe sticking out rehab is worthwhile.

2. You messed up, and you’re afraid you’re about to be kicked out of rehab. But you want to get sober.

If this is you, take a deep breath. The most common reason to fear being kicked out of rehab is due to a relapse. Relapses are common in the addiction recovery journey and may occur even in rehab—if you’re in an outpatient rehab program.

If you start using while you’re in outpatient treatment or sober living treatment, it may well be caught by the rehab center. Getting caught could lead you to worry whether you can be refused treatment for your indiscretion. Many treatment centers will not kick you out if you test positive for drugs; others will.

A relapse isn’t the only reason you might be worried about getting kicked out of rehab. Every addiction center has its own set of rules and boundaries that you need to adhere to during your stay. Breaking the rehab rules holds consequences. Getting kicked out could be one of those consequences. There might be rules against establishing romantic relationships, sex during rehab or using phones while in the program. We’ll talk more on these specific rules below.

Finding out the facts helps you stay in treatment and understand why using drugs or breaking rules during your recovery is potentially a big issue. If you’re nervous, remember that kicking a person out of rehab is the most extreme consequence an addiction center can give. It’s not usually done lightly.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Drugs in Rehab

Your drug treatment facility will more than likely encourage you to work toward abstinence, meaning no addictive substances at all. Substances cloud your judgment, reason and emotions, all of which are necessary to take a look at your life and behaviors and move through recovery successfully.

Another reason for abstinence is that most people who struggle with substance abuse have difficulty stopping once they have started. Alcoholics will drain a bottle once opened, and illicit drug users will deplete their supply after starting on it. In some cases, it can lead to a complete relapse and non-attendance of treatment.

Do All Rehabs Conduct Drug Testing?

There’s a benefit to conducting drug testing at an addiction treatment center: Users might lie to staff about their use to avoid looking bad or as if they aren’t taking the treatment seriously, but they can’t really trick an objective test. Drug testing is most often done with a blood test. Some rehab centers use urine testing.

It’s generally more common for outpatient rehab centers than inpatient facilities to conduct drug tests because clients are exposed to the risks and triggers of their ordinary lives between sessions and may have used. Residential facilities are often rigorously controlled environments. You leave your substance of choice behind when you enter, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll obtain drugs while in treatment.

Drug tests are most common at the beginning of treatment because it helps the center establish the extent of the problem. Inpatient centers use this opportunity to check what personal possessions you’ve brought in with you to ensure they don’t include something that will derail your recovery. For the same reason, many drug rehabs opt to monitor and check incoming mail.

When testing is conducted, it’s usually done at random intervals. This is important, since drugs of abuse are only in the individual’s system for a limited time. Rehab centers don’t want you to know exactly when you’ll be tested.

What Are the Consequences of a Positive Drug Test?

If you test positive for drugs while in treatment, what happens very much depends on the specific center. Most rehab facilities accept that relapse is an ordinary part of the recovery process and don’t enact negative consequences for a positive result. The most likely result is a re-doubling of treatment efforts. Perhaps the center will recommend you move from outpatient treatment to inpatient treatment, so you can focus more fully on your addiction recovery. In some cases, you and the rehabilitation center will have previously agreed on a course of action in the event of a positive result.

The consequences can be more severe. If your treatment was court-ordered, a positive result may have to be reported to the court, which could lead to a harsher sentence. In the same way, some workplaces won’t fire an employee if they promise to get treatment under the condition that the employer is notified if the individual tests positive. This could, in extreme circumstances, lead to the employee being fired.

Some rehabilitation centers will refuse treatment if you test positive for drugs. If this is a possibility, you should be told prior to treatment. It’s a risky strategy. Refusing treatment to someone who suffers a relapse can be damaging, leaving the individual with no support network during a downwards spiral. Nobody plans to relapse, but you should be wary of receiving treatment from a person or facility who may not be willing to help you in the worst-case scenario.

Can You Get Kicked Out for Breaking Drug Rehab Rules?

Clearly, using drugs or alcohol during rehab is breaking a rule, but there are likely other rules unique to your treatment. Recovery requires you to be emotionally vulnerable. Given this, it’s not unusual for recovering addicts to be drawn to each other or to want to hear familiar voices and see familiar faces. Different rehabs have different rules regarding both relationships during rehab and phones in rehab.

Sex in Rehab

Why do most substance abuse rehabs have rules about sex in rehab? If it feels like an invasion of privacy, it might help to understand the nature of addiction and addiction recovery.

Drugs give you a neurochemical rush that you enjoy and long for. Sex does the same thing. That neurochemical rush can even block out negative feelings coming from trauma and unresolved conflict. While that feels good, the issue is, how did you get to this point? Why do you have an addiction?

You need to work through those negative feelings—no matter how hard—while in a safe environment. A new relationship, especially when the rush of sex is mixed in, threatens your motivation to face your problems. As you take the time to answer these questions and get sober, many experts recommend waiting a year before entering a new sexual relationship.

Because physical intimacy produces that neurochemical rush, sex can be addictive. While in recovery, you are particularly vulnerable to new addictions. The time will come for new romantic and sexual relationships, but the addictiveness of sex and your need to focus on healing are both good reasons for many centers not to allow it during your stay.

Will you get kicked out of treatment for having sex in rehab? You’ll have to read the rules of your facility. That being said, if you find yourself slipping in any way during rehab, reaching out to your counselor and telling them first is usually the wisest choice.

Phones in Rehab

Cell phone use in rehab is contentious. Some rehabs ban them completely because they believe in limiting your contact with the outside world (where your addiction developed). Others believe a more moderate approach can help you learn how to navigate those connections.

Caution makes sense. During rehab, you probably shouldn’t be communicating with your old drug buddies because it could reactivate old temptations and set you up for a relapse. But you might want to have a conversation with your spouse, child or another family member.

If cell phone and computer usage during rehab is important to you, whether you can use them is a question to ask upfront. Different rehabs have different rules. This includes our Scottsdale and Austin Promises locations. Most maintain an initial “blackout” period, in which all contact with the outside world is prohibited. This allows you to focus completely on the start of your healing before navigating complex outside relationships.

Drug Rehab Rules Are FOR YOU

The most vital thing to remember is that the reason for drug testing and rules about sex and cell phones is to ensure you move toward your treatment goals and get better. It might feel like monitoring or mistrust, but it’s about your well-being.

When it comes to drug testing specifically, being aware of the severity of your problem and finding out that you have relapsed enables the center to help you. A relapse shouldn’t get you kicked out of rehab, but it should be a cold, hard reminder that you need to take your treatment seriously.

What If You Do Get Kicked Out of Rehab?

This can be a terrifying thought, especially if it comes as you find yourself relapsing. You need urgent help.

While it may be hard to pick up the courage to try again, take a deep breath and reach out for help. The person kicked out of rehab is the person most desperately in need of rehab.

You can get sober. Maybe the first treatment facility or program you tried wasn’t equipped to deal with some of the challenges you’re facing. Try again.

A relapse isn’t permanent. It’s a symptom of a terrible disease called addiction, but it’s not the end of the story.

Posted on April 16, 2013 and modified on June 10, 2019

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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