What to Pack for Rehab: A Complete Guide of Do’s and Don’ts
More than 4.2 million people received treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2019, and many entered a residential inpatient treatment program.1 Deciding to go to rehab for alcohol or drug misuse is a brave first step toward a happier, healthier life. And as you prepare, you may be wondering what to pack for rehab to ensure you have a comfortable stay where you can focus on recovery. While no two treatment facilities are exactly alike, the rehab packing list below can serve as a helpful guide for what you may and may not need and what items are likely prohibited.
What to Pack for Drug & Alcohol Rehab
Many rehabs have strict guidelines for what you can and cannot bring to the rehab facility to ensure that patients are provided with a comfortable and safe environment to support their recovery. As you research what to bring to residential inpatient addiction treatment, it’s a good idea to contact the treatment facility ahead of time to verify if they have a rehab packing list they provide patients. If they don’t, many treatment facilities will gladly offer advice on what to bring to rehab and can walk you through what items are prohibited and what items they might provide so you don’t over- or under-pack. Below is a general list of things to bring to rehab including clothing, toiletries, and personal items that may help you feel more comfortable during your time there.
Clothing to Pack for Rehab
When packing for rehab, bring basic clothing items that are comfortable and modest. You’ll want to leave form-fitting and revealing clothing at home and any clothing that references alcohol, drug use, or other types of imagery that may be inappropriate or triggering. It’s a good idea to factor in the climate and weather where the treatment facility is located and how long you will be living there to gauge the appropriate items to pack. Your space may be limited so be sure to not overpack. Many treatment facilities provide on-site laundry so you won’t have to worry about having clean clothes. Clothing to bring includes:
- Shirts. Bring a mix of short- and long-sleeve shirts. Be cautious when packing tank tops or low-cut tops, which may be against the dress code.
- Pants. You may wish to pack jeans, slacks, or another type of full-length pants that you’re most comfortable in. Shorts may be allowed at some treatment facilities so long as they are an appropriate length.
- Shoes. Bring comfortable shoes you can wear every day. A sturdy pair of tennis shoes will come in handy for activities you may participate in like hiking and tennis while flips flops or sandals can be worn in the locker room.
- Activewear. Bring fitness and outdoor-appropriate clothing that you can easily move in for physical activities.
- A slightly more formal outfit. Some treatment facilities may have family nights or formal nights for patients.
- A swimsuit. Keep in mind that some treatment facilities may require women to wear one-piece swimsuits.
Toiletries to Pack for Rehab
Pack your daily toiletries but keep in mind that some items, like aerosol products, perfumes, and mouthwash, may be prohibited if they contain alcohol or are deemed dangerous for other reasons. Other items, like over-the-counter medications, supplements, and vitamins, may be allowed on a case-by-case basis so long as they are sealed, so be sure to check with the treatment facility ahead of time. Toiletries to bring include:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Shampoo and conditioner.
- Shaving cream.
- Feminine hygiene products.
Personal Items You Can Bring to Rehab
The following personal items can help you stay comfortable and connected during your stay in rehab. Keep in mind that certain items, like books, may or may not be allowed depending on the subject matter. Many treatment facilities provide books onsite or encourage books focused on self-help and spirituality. Personal items to bring include:
- Driver’s license or another form of identification (e.g., passport).
- Prescription medication. Be sure your prescriptions are up to date and in the original containers with the appropriate labels.
- Insurance cards.
- Cash and credit/debit card. Many treatment facilities recommend you bring a small amount of cash to use at the store or vending machines, as well as a credit or debit card for any additional purchases you may need to make at the treatment facility.
- Names, addresses, emails, and/or phone numbers for family and friends you want to keep in touch with while you are in treatment.
- Reading materials.
- Envelopes and stamps.
- A journal or notebook.
- Pictures of family and friends.
What Not to Pack for Rehab
As mentioned, it’s a good idea to contact the treatment facility to verify what items are prohibited. Every treatment facility is different, and some may prohibit certain items while others do not. Some items, while not prohibited, may not be necessary because they will be provided to you (e.g., an alarm clock). In general, items not to bring to rehab include:
- Illicit drugs.
- Cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
- Prescription medicine that is not yours or not in its original container.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that is unapproved or has been opened.
- Weapons (e.g., pocketknives).
- Sharp objects (e.g., scissors).
- Valuables. Leave valuables (e.g., jewelry) behind. Some facilities will allow you to bring jewelry that you wear every day but be sure to check on this ahead of time.
- Inappropriate clothing. Clothing that references alcohol or drugs, or that may be offensive in any way is prohibited. Avoid bringing clothing that is too revealing or suggestive.
- Toiletries that contain alcohol (e.g., mouthwash).
- Nail polish and nail polish remover.
- Games (e.g., playing cards).
- Food and drinks.
Items That May or May Not Be Allowed in Rehab
While preparing for rehab, be sure to check if these items are allowed or not:
- Cell phones. Some facilities allow cell phones in rehab for use at certain times of the day. Call ahead of time to verify.
- Laptops. Similarly, some treatment facilities may let you bring your laptop for use at certain times of the day. If having your laptop is important to you, you can research executive rehabs, which cater to patients who may need to periodically conduct business (e.g., CEOs).
- E-readers (e.g., Kindles).
- Music listening devices (e.g., MP3 players, radios).
- Over-the-counter medications, supplements, and vitamins.
- Nail clippers and nail files.
Getting Ready to Leave for Rehab
Deciding to enter a residential inpatient treatment program is a brave and exciting step towards a happier, healthier future free of substances. As you pack for rehab, remember that you can always contact the treatment facility ahead of time with any questions you may have.
If you haven’t found the right treatment program yet, there are several ways you can start the process. You can contact your healthcare provider and ask for referrals or use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FindTreatment.gov tool. You can also contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) to find a rehab near you, verify your insurance, or get more resources and support.
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