Road to Recovery: Are Difficult People Common in Rehab?

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Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Dr. Joshua Yager is an Atlanta native, board-certified family practice physician who is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of his community.

Table of Contents

Going into rehab can be a challenging experience. The media’s depiction of rehab centers in film and literature isn’t always the most considerate to its real-life counterpart. This is where rumors about difficult people tend to pop up in the minds of the general public. Loud, aggressive, and hostile are some of the adjectives that people describe difficult people. However, these assumptions are far from the truth within these rehab facilities.

What are difficult people?

Classifying someone as “difficult” is a matter of subjective perspective. For example, a person who is constantly pessimistic may be difficult for some but not all people. Listed below are some traits that a “difficult person” has:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Hostility
  • Constant negativity
  • Close-mindedness
  • Secretiveness
  • Rebelliousness
  • Compulsive lying
  • Manipulative
  • Frankness
  • Fanaticism

Although one or more of these traits can be problematic for most people, they don’t always apply to recovering substance abuse disorder patients. Sometimes, these personality traits can be less agreeable than others. However, there is no reason why these people will be more present in rehab centers than in the outside world.

What do drug rehab patients have in common?

It’s a close-minded idea to think that recovering patients all have the “difficult” traits above. People who experience substance abuse disorder are far and wide in the spectrum, from homeless individuals to professional business people. However, there are a few traits that these individuals have in common.

Recovering patients from substance abuse disorder have a lower urge to restrain their acts. It makes them more prone to follow their impulses. A related trait they could have or develop is a high tolerance for deviant behavior. They may be oblivious to acts that break general rules, mostly if it serves their wants and purposes. This is what makes them rebellious by nature of dealing with authority figures.

Another harmful trait they could have is the tendency to be antisocial. Substance abusers either develop or are coping with symptoms of depression. For this reason, they are more reluctant to participate in group activities, especially with strangers.

Keep in mind that we must not generalize all substance abuse patients to have these traits. Nevertheless, statistics and actual studies show that they usually have one or some of them.

Are all drug rehab patients “difficult” to handle?

The reality is that most people who check themselves in rehab facilities are high-functioning individuals. Some of them are well-adjusted and can come from a high educational background. However, their condition may force them to consider that others like them may be “difficult individuals.” Since their impulses don’t have a strong moral compass, they may treat people who are more open than them with hostility.

It’s a common scenario during the early stages of group rehab to have strong personalities. These are individuals who either want extra attention or don’t want others to have it. Other strong characters can be vocal cynics and want to influence others with what they feel.


Although it’s possible to have disagreeable co-patients in rehab, that shouldn’t stop you from finding the help you need. In fact, it’s better to have a diverse set of individuals for a rehab center to be successful. It will be easier for difficult and non-difficult people alike to find a safe space to grow together. By building interpersonal relationships, they can be more open about their journey and dedicate their mutual growth towards recovery.

It’s much better to face life’s hardships with people who can guide you in the right direction. Seeking out professional help for your addiction is a necessary step towards recovery. If you’re looking for a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Hiram, Georgia, contact our branches today.


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