Most people who choose to get help for their addiction have struggled with it for years. You have probably tried to quit many times and failed. You probably know that if you go into treatment, you’ll have to take random, surprise drug tests while you’re there. You might be worried that failing a drug will get you kicked out. That isn’t true. Most rehab centers understand that getting sober isn’t as easy as just walking a straight line from addiction to recovery.
What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Rehab?
The simple answer is that it all depends on the rehab center. Although all of them have policies prohibiting the use of any alcohol or drugs, they have different approaches to a failed test.
Relapse is Part of Recovery
Most rehab centers understand that addicts and alcoholics like to break the rules, and occasionally one of those rules is the prohibition on using. They also understand that if you’re relapsing, you actually need more help and support before you become a full-blown addict or alcoholic again. Addiction experts know that the best response to a slip-up is to prevent it from becoming worse.
Many alcoholics “fall off the wagon” and find themselves having one drink or one night of drinking. The same is true for people addicted to drugs or gambling. That doesn’t mean recovery is over. It doesn’t mean you’re a hopeless case. It means that you need to understand what happened and get help to keep it from happening again. Most treatment centers understand that relapse is part of recovery and will help you get back on track.
Understanding a Zero-Tolerance Policy
A few treatment centers take a tougher line toward any drug or alcohol use. In those treatment centers, you will be asked to leave as soon as you fail a drug test. The reasoning behind this policy is that the presence of drugs or alcohol is a threat to the safety of other residents. Some treatment centers will allow you to return, but require you to start over from day one. For instance, if you test positive on day 50 of a 90-day program, you have to start all over again and complete the full 90 days.
What About Sober Living Homes?
Some sober living houses will make you move out immediately if you fail a drug test. Like a rehab center, a sober living home has to safeguard the other residents. Having a member who’s high or drunk creates an unsafe environment. In others, you won’t be asked to leave but you’ll be placed on tighter restrictions. Any privileges you might have earned, like the ability to stay out for the night or the ability to skip a weekly chore, will also be taken away. In most cases, you’ll get a second chance but will have to leave if you fail the test again.
If you’re in a court-ordered treatment program, attending alcohol education to reduce your sentence in a DUI case, or on probation, the consequences of a failed drug test are more severe. Depending on the terms of your agreement, you could find yourself facing fines, extended probation and even jail time. If you’re in court-ordered treatment, it’s especially important to get help before you make the mistake of using again.
Dealing with a Relapse
Recovery is a lifelong journey. Every recovering addict will experience detours, missed turns and stumbles along that journey. If you’re getting treatment, you’re in the best position to get help getting back on the right path. Face your relapse with honesty. Speak frankly to your counselors and ask them to map out strategies with you for preventing a relapse. If you feel that your need to drink or use drugs is overwhelming, ask your therapist, counselor or support group for help.
Most rehab centers won’t let you down when you need help the most. If you’re concerned about your ability to stay sober for a set period of time, ask the treatment center about their policies on failed drug tests. You may be reassured to find out that their response is to work with you, offering more treatment and more support.
Find the Right Treatment Center
If you’re ready to make a change for the better, an inpatient or outpatient treatment center can help. Our counselors can help you find a rehab center where you’ll be treated with compassion and care. Call us anytime at 844-639-8371.