April 30, 2023

The Consequences of Avoiding Rehab

The consequences of avoiding rehab for individuals struggling with addiction can be severe and far-reaching, and some you might not expect.

The consequences of avoiding rehab

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Dane Perikly

Director of Virtual Services & DUI Education

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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The consequences of not going to rehab for individuals struggling with addiction can be severe and far-reaching and some you might not even expect. 

Here are the consequences of not going to treatment in detail. 

Physical Consequences

The physical consequences of addiction can manifest in numerous ways, as the body struggles to cope with the ongoing substance abuse.

Chronic drug and alcohol use can lead to organ damage, weakened immune system, malnutrition, and increased risk of infectious diseases.

Furthermore, the continuous strain on the body may result in long-term neurological issues, cardiovascular problems, and a heightened risk of overdose or premature death.

Here are the physical consequences you can expect the longer you refuse to seek treatment for addiction.

Deteriorating Health

Addiction can have a significant impact on overall health, leading to a range of complications and long-term health issues.

The persistent use of drugs and alcohol can cause organ damage, particularly to the liver, kidneys, and heart, as these organs work overtime to process and eliminate toxins from the body.

For example, the more severe the addiction to heroin, the greater risk for impairment of kidney and liver function 1.

The liver can also, for example, suffer from cirrhosis, hepatitis, or fatty liver disease due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Malnutrition is another common issue among those suffering from addiction, as substance abuse can disrupt normal eating habits and nutrient absorption2.

Prolonged drug or alcohol use often results in weight loss, vitamin deficiencies, and general weakness, all of which contribute to a weakened immune system.

A compromised immune system leaves the individual more susceptible to infections, viruses, and other illnesses, exacerbating their declining health.

Moreover, some addictive substances, such as opioids and stimulants, can directly affect the body’s immune response.

These drugs may suppress the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and increase the likelihood of contracting diseases like pneumonia, HIV, or hepatitis.

The combination of organ damage, malnutrition, and a compromised immune system creates a vicious cycle in which the body’s ability to heal and maintain overall health is significantly diminished.

Without intervention and appropriate treatment, these health issues can lead to further complications, chronic illness, and even premature death.

Increased Risk of Overdose

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the brain, making it difficult for individuals to quit using drugs or alcohol even when they want to.

Avoiding rehab can increase drug or alcohol use, which can lead to an increased risk of overdose and potentially fatal consequences.

Rehab programs provide a structured and supportive environment that helps individuals overcome addiction by providing medical, psychological, and social support.

When individuals avoid rehab, they miss out on the support they need to stay clean and sober.

This can lead to a vicious cycle of drug or alcohol use, as individuals continue to use to cope with stress, anxiety, and other problems.

Over time, their tolerance to drugs or alcohol may increase, which means they need to use more to get the same effect.

This can lead to an increased risk of overdose, which can be potentially fatal.

In addition, drugs and alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making, making it more likely for individuals to engage in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, which can also lead to fatal consequences.

Seeking professional help through rehab programs is essential for individuals struggling with addiction to overcome their addiction and avoid the negative outcomes associated with substance abuse.

Worsening Mental Health

Substance abuse and addiction can exacerbate existing mental health issues or cause new ones by altering brain chemistry, worsening symptoms of underlying mental health issues, causing brain damage, and/or inducing psychosis.

For some, individuals struggling with addiction may use substances to manage underlying mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

Unfortunately, over time, these substances can worsen the symptoms, leading to more significant mental health problems.

Addiction can cause changes in brain chemistry, leading to the development of new mental health disorders such as substance-induced mood disorders or psychotic disorders3.

It’s crucial to seek the help of a professional to manage both substance abuse and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Emotional Consequences

Addiction can cause extreme emotional consequences for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Addiction impacts an individual’s emotional state, leading to increased anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings.

In addition, individuals can feel isolated and alone, leading to a decreased ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.

This can create significant distress, impacting an individual’s overall well-being and quality of life.

Strained Relationships

Addiction can have devastating effects on relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners due to broken trust, withdrawal, unpredictability, financial strain, and codependency.

Individuals may prioritize substance abuse over their relationships, resulting in a lack of trust and communication between them.

Family members and friends may become overwhelmed and disappointed with the person’s behavior, leading to strained relationships.

It’s important for people struggling with addiction to seek professional help to address their addiction and repair relationships with loved ones.

Therapy and support groups are vital in helping rebuild trust and establishing healthy relationships.

Isolation and Loneliness

Addiction can contribute to social isolation and loneliness as people prioritize substance use over social connections, withdraw from social activities, become alienated from loved ones, experience cognitive impairment, and emotional distress.

Feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment, can cause the individual to dive deeper into their substance abuse, resulting in a disconnect from family and friends even more.

Social isolation can cause feelings of extreme loneliness for the individual that is struggling with addiction, as well as loved ones.

Addressing social isolation through therapy or support groups is helpful and necessary for a successful recovery.

Let us help you start your journey to recovery.

Get compassionate evidence-based and trauma focused substance abuse treatment in Arizona.

Financial Consequences

Addiction can have a significant impact on an individual’s financial well-being, leading to debt, legal fees, reduced earning potential, job loss, and financial instability.

Addiction can also lead to health problems that require expensive medical treatments or hospitalization, leading to further financial strain.

The financial consequences of addiction can be quite severe and long-lasting.

Loss of Employment

Addiction can lead to job loss due to poor performance, unreliability, and behavioral instability.

Substance abuse can cause cognitive impairment, making it difficult for people to perform their tasks well at work.

They may struggle with memory, attention, and problem-solving, leading to a poor performance and mistakes on the job.

Substance abuse can cause behavioral issues and instability, such as irritability, aggression, and mood swings.

These issues can create an unhealthy atmosphere and conflict in the workplace, leading to disciplinary action or even termination.

People struggling with addiction may also struggle with being late and missing work, resulting in a reputation for being unreliable.

Addiction can have a significant impact on an individual’s employment, leading to job loss and difficulty finding new employment. 

Increased Debt 

The cost of supporting an addiction can lead to financial instability and massive debt, which can have lasting effects on an individual’s life.

Substance abuse can be expensive, and individuals struggling with addiction may prioritize their substance use over other important and necessary financial obligations.

This can lead to unpaid bills, bankruptcy, and financial crisis.

People may resort to borrowing money, using credit cards, or taking out loans to support their addiction, which can lead to further financial distress and long-term debt.

Financial instability can impact an individual’s ability to meet even very basic needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare.

The cost of addiction can have significant financial consequences that can impact an individual’s life for many years to come.

Legal Consequences

Addiction can have severe legal consequences for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Substance abuse can lead to criminal behavior, such as drug-related offenses, driving under the influence, or domestic violence, resulting in legal consequences such as fines, probation, or jail time.

Addiction can also contribute to other legal issues, such as financial crimes, property damage, and loss of custody or visitations rights.

Criminal Charges

Addiction can lead to a variety of criminal charges due to illegal activities such as drug possession, theft, or DUI/DWI.

Substance abuse can cause individuals to engage in risky behavior, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which can lead to DUI/DWI charges.

These charges can carry severe penalties, such as fines, driver’s license suspension/revoke, and even incarceration into the penal system.

Addiction can lead to financial crimes such as theft, as individuals prioritize obtaining drugs over any financial and/or legal means.

This can result in numerous charges such as larceny, robbery, or fraud, which can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment.

Possession of illegal drugs can result in criminal charges, as possession of controlled substances is illegal under both state and federal law 4.

These charges can lead to fines, probation, and/or jail time.

Drug-related offenses such as distribution or trafficking narcotics can also have severe legal consequences, including very lengthy prison sentences.

Loss of Custody or Visitation Rights

Addiction can have devastating consequences for parental rights, including losing custody or visitation rights, if the court deems the parent unfit.

Substance abuse can impact a parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for their children.

Additionally, substance abuse can cause unpredictable behavior and emotional instability, leading to further concern for the well-being of the children.

This can result in legal action by family members or child welfare authorities to remove the children from the parent’s custody or revoke visitation rights.

The loss of custody can significantly impact both the parent and children, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse.

Treatment can provide individuals and parents with the skills and resources they need to maintain sobriety and rebuild healthy relationships with their children.

The Benefits of Seeking Rehab

Entering rehab can lead to several positive outcomes, such as improved health, restored relationships with family and friends, and achieving a better quality of life.

Rehab programs offer a range of services, including medical detoxification, individual and group therapy, counseling, and support groups.

Rehab programs can also help individuals restore damaged relationships with family and friends, while also providing a supportive community of peers who are going through similar experiences.

Improved physical health, reduced risk of long-term health complications from substance abuse, and improvement of mental health are just some of the potential benefits of entering rehab.

Seeking treatment for addiction is an essential first step for individuals to overcome addiction, achieve long-term recovery, and enjoy a more fulfilling and healthy life.


[1] Effect of Heroin on Liver and Kidney Functions

[2] Nutritional assessment of drug addicts

[3] Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

[4] State and Federal Laws and Sanctions Concerning Drugs and Alcohol

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Author & Reviewers

dane perikly dui writer headshot

Dane Perikly


Dane is the Director of Virtual services at Cornerstone. He contributes guides on DUI education so that you can understand all there is to know about DUI charges, education, and the overall process of meeting Arizona requirements after a DUI. He cares deeply about raising awareness of the dangers of DUI and illustrating the impact on victims and on those charged. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges, he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of conditions.

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