Will I Succeed in Rehab if I’m Antisocial

Will I Succeed in Rehab if I’m Antisocial

Antisocial people must work on communication skills in rehab, because sharing your addiction struggles with others is an important step in recovery

When someone enters rehab, she has already made some positive strides toward getting well. Just admitting that you have a problem with drugs and then reaching out of for help is the first and biggest step on the journey to drug-free living. While in treatment, you will learn about the parts of your personality and family history that contributed to your addiction, but your therapist will teach you about new ways of thinking and looking at the world so you can get and stay clean from drugs. Through individual and group counseling, you will share thoughts, feelings, successes and struggles in positive ways that promote long-term sobriety. In other words, as you share your story, you will find healing from addiction.

Unfortunately, some people are naturally shy, get nervous around others or are still dealing with the anger that often comes with drug withdrawals, so they may feel tempted to withdraw from other people. However, being antisocial during rehab can greatly impede the recovery process and increase your risk for relapse after treatment ends. In response, learn to express your emotions in healthy ways both during and after treatment to master an important part of the healing process.

Antisocial Behavior Basics

The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health defines antisocial behavior as disruptive acts characterized by both covert and overt aggression toward others. Antisocial behaviors run on a continuum from moderate to severe, and some of those behaviors include the following examples:

  • Repeated violations of social rules
  • Defiance of authority
  • Defiance of the rights of others

Antisocial behavior is often identified in children as young as three or four, but, if left untreated, then those problems can escalate into behavioral disorders[i]. However, antisocial behaviors can also manifest themselves as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. When someone is under the influence of a drug, any tendency toward these behaviors can intensify due to the lack of inhibitions caused by the substance of choice. However, the antisocial aspect of some people’s personalities does not surface until they enter addiction treatment.

Rehab and Antisocial Behavior

When someone enters drug rehab, fully focusing on his drug problem can seem overwhelming. Fear of judgment and the heavy weight of guilt that comes with drug abuse can make withdrawing from others seem like the best way to hide pain. In other words, the struggle with drugs and the resulting emotions is already so difficult that it may seem impossible to let yourself be vulnerable enough to talk about it. In that regard, some common symptoms of antisocial behavior include the following list:

  • Rudeness
  • Arrogance
  • Cruelty to others
  • Disrespecting other people
  • Disrespect for authority, including therapists and other addiction professionals
  • Disruptive behavior during treatment sessions

Hiding behind these antisocial behaviors during rehab only delays the progress that you or your loved one needs to make. However, if you learn to trust your rehab team and open yourself up to cognitive behavioral therapy, then you can change these unhealthy thought patterns into positive ones that promote recovery. Being open with other recovering addicts who have the same struggles as you lets you know that you are not alone in your recovery.

Also, developing your ability to communicate during rehab will prepare you for reentry into society. One of the most important parts of the early days of recovery is joining a support group and attending the meetings regularly. You may feel tempted to withdraw into yourself after you leave treatment, because you may still bear some shame or guilt over what you have done while addicted; however, returning to antisocial behaviors will only increase your risk of relapse. In that regard, attending support group meetings every day (or as often as possible) lets you develop the communication skills that promote drug and alcohol recovery.

Antisocial Behavior Disorder

An undiagnosed or under diagnosed mental illness can cause or contribute to addiction. For instance, some people receive a diagnosis for an antisocial behavior disorder (ASBD) if their antisocial issues began in early childhood and continued into adulthood. The condition cannot be diagnosed until someone reaches the age of 18, and the patient must have manifested some symptoms prior to the age of 15. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the following problems as symptoms of Antisocial Behavior Disorder:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • A history of disregard for the safety of others
  • Repeated episodes of aggression and easy irritability
  • Irresponsibility, like a poor school record or work history
  • Failure to conform to societal norms evidenced by at least some contact with law enforcement or the justice system
  • No remorse for their behavior
  • A history of deception

The DSM requires that at least three of these symptoms be present for someone to receive an ASPD diagnosis. Rehab facilities that specialize in Dual Diagnosis treatment simultaneously treat both mental illness and addiction.

Find Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Antisocial behaviors can impede the healing process during drug or alcohol rehab, but learning to communicate in healthy ways with other people is an important part of the healing process. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.


[i] The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. “Antisocial Behavior.” Accessed January 22, 2016. http://www.healthofchildren.com/A/Antisocial-Behavior.html