The idea of going to rehab can be scary. Many addicts reach a point where they’re ready to say, “I’ve lost control over my life.” But the idea of going to rehab can be intimidating. Leaving your home environment for a more controlled environment can actually be great for your mental health, but it’s common to feel anxiety about the thought. The media is full of misconceptions about mental health treatment and rehab facilities. Oftentimes, they’ll make rehab look like a prison in which people’s freedom and autonomy are taken away. This leads many people to ask: Will an inpatient rehab lock the doors?
In short, no. A good inpatient rehab won’t have locks on its doors.
You have the freedom to leave the facility whenever you choose, regardless of whether or not you’ve completed your program. You can even walk out if you’ve been enrolled in the treatment program by court order. There will be consequences for violating your court order, but you technically have the freedom to do so.
Why Locks Are Counter-intuitive to the Recovery Process
In the past few decades, research about addiction has progressed in leaps and bounds. We know now that addiction is a type of mental illness that often co-occurs with other mental health issues. We know how to treat physical withdrawal symptoms. We know what kinds of environments help reduce the risk of relapse, and we know how to employ different therapies to help people overcome their addiction through healthy coping mechanisms.
All the published research on addiction treatment agrees on one core principle: Treatment only works if a person is willing to let it work. They need to be committed to the process of getting better. If an inpatient rehab held people completely against their will, they’d go back to using as soon as they were released from the facility. They would not have learned the coping skills they need to face their addiction in their day-to-day life.
Rehab Facilities Are Not a Prison
An inpatient rehab is focused on healing. The main goal is to provide the patient with the resources they need to prevent relapse in the future. They’re not intended to punish, judge, or harm a patient. Instead, they recognize that addiction is a mental illness, and they provide the mental health resources necessary to treat it.
When you enroll in an inpatient rehab, a level of trust exists between the patients and the staff. The patients understand that they have the freedom to leave at any time, and that their presence in the program is a choice they make every day. This way, the staff knows that everyone there wishes to be there. They provide the help people need rather than acting like jailers.
Staff Members Are There Because They Care
The people who work at an inpatient rehab do so because they’re passionate about helping addicts. They have compassion and empathy for people struggling with addiction. They have also received a great deal of training and education about addiction treatment, mental health, and how to work with patients.
Different staff members will have different areas of expertise. There will generally be nurses available 24/7 to provide both mental health encouragement and physical health monitoring. Trained counselors will provide individual therapy and lead group support sessions. Physicians will help monitor the physical health of the patient and prescribe medication to reduce cravings. Psychiatrists can diagnose and treat comorbid mental health issues. Everyone on the staff has a job centered around helping patients and keeping them safe. Nobody is in charge of jailing patients or forcing them to receive treatment against their will.
The staff members at an inpatient rehab are not your enemies. They have no desire to be at odds with you. Their goal is to work with you to provide the best treatment and resources for your future. This remains true even if you’re receiving treatment due to a court order, rather than voluntary enrollment.
What Supervision to Expect
You will have freedom and autonomy during the rehab program. You can choose to leave at any point. You can also choose to opt out of activities, although this may negatively impact your ability to stay in the program. You’ll have input about what types of treatment and medication you receive. You’re not a prisoner; you retain the ability to be proactive about your health.
You can expect a certain level of supervision at an inpatient rehab. Policies regarding supervision exist for the safety of the patients. During the initial detox, you’ll have 24/7 monitoring by medical staff to ensure you don’t have any dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
The supervision during inpatient rehab will vary depending on the program and the facility’s specific policies. You’ll generally need to let the staff members search your things to be sure there isn’t contraband, and you’ll have to let them make sure you’re safe.
What to Ask When Picking an Inpatient Rehab
It’s okay to be overwhelmed by the thought of rehab, especially if you don’t know what to expect. The good thing is that rehab centers employ counselors who can answer questions and provide policy information.
If you’re worried about your freedom, these are some good questions to ask:
- Do you ever lock your doors?
- How much privacy do patients have?
- What levels of supervision are there?
- What happens if a patient wants to leave their program early?
- How much say does a patient have in their treatment plan?
- Can a patient refuse prescribed medication?
- Are there consequences if a patient refuses to participate in certain program activities?
- What items are not allowed on campus, and why?
- Can patients ever get day passes to leave the facility temporarily?
The answers to all of these will give you a sense of what to expect. We have trained counselors available to take your call at 866-754-9113.