This is not good news.
Since Jones’ positive test was revealed, the MMA blogosphere has been circulating the supposedly informed rumor that the positive test did not come as a surprise to people who know Jones well and that they are frankly surprised he didn’t pop sooner.
Leaving rehab after one day does not bode well for Jones. His positive test was big news and his immediate response to that news of acknowledging a problem and seeking to get help rather than complaining that the test was wrong or whatever, generated a lot of goof will for him. So after making such a public issue out of checking into rehab, it is a big deal and a PR nightmare that he chose to leave after one day. Since I have some experience in the drug rehab business (not as a patient), I have some speculation about what might have happened here, and none of it is good.
First, he might be jonesing (no pun intended) for a fix. For those unfamiliar with the language, jonesing means intense cravings. It is easy to talk about getting clean and sober, but when faced with the reality of doing that the cravings can become overwhelming. The craving mind always says “I’ll just go get one more hit, then I’ll be ready.” The reality is that one more hit turns into many and there is never a good time to stop until you face serious consequences if you don’t. What AA and NA call “hitting rock bottom.”
Second, a good rehab should be a leveling experience. I’m pretty sure Jones checked into a rehab that is used to dealing with celebrities. Those places know how to deal with the press and the sometimes unique needs of celebrities, but if they are good there is still one set of rules that everyone has to play by. This is for the good of the group milieu, and the good of the patient. The celebrity addict is no better than or different from the lawyer addict or the construction worker addict or the homeless addict when it comes to the workings of the addiction. Celebrity livers get pickled just the same as lawyer livers. Celebrity nasal septums get perforated just like construction worker septums. Some people don’t respond well to the rules, and you can imagine how this might be harder for celebrities who are used to being catered to. “What do you mean I can’t have my cell phone?” “What do you mean I can only get a shower between 7 and 9?” Etc.
Third, he may be overconfident in his ability to stay sober and left because he didn’t feel he needed the program. There is always the possibility that this is true, but if you deal with addicts enough you recognize a pattern. The ones who are the most confident in their ability to stay clean and sober, usually the newbies, are the ones you have the least confidence will be able to do it. It’s a good thing to have a healthy skepticism and fear about your ability to stay sober. The ones who have been through the process a few times are more likely to get this. This is why AA encourages the concept of “one day at a time” instead of confident proclamations that “I’ll never drink again.”
Jones apparently made some comment about wanting to see his brothers play each other in the upcoming playoff game. This sounds like typical addict excuse making. Yes watching your brothers play against each other for a chance to go to the Super Bowl is a big deal, but given the circumstances of his admission, does not warrant aborting his rehab. And he didn’t seem to indicate, from what I have seen, that he planned to go back to rehab afterwards.
The overall picture you get is of a hard headed guy who is going to do things his own way. Jones is not stupid, so he had to know that the pressure to stay, from his family, from the UFC, from his camp, etc. was intense, and that there would be a backlash against him leaving. In this context, leaving after one night is even more rash than it otherwise would be.
Let’s pray for the best here. The last thing we need is another extremely gifted athlete whose career is cut short by addiction.