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What to Bring to Inpatient Rehab: Packing Checklist

People sometimes think of a stay in rehab in the same way they would a hospital stay. Though there are similarities because rehab is a health-oriented environment, what you do while in drug or alcohol rehab is different than what you do during a hospital stay.

In an addiction treatment program, you will get up, get dressed, and participate in activities every day. This means you need clothing, toiletries, and other personal items for your stay in rehab. The best way to make sure you remember everything you need while you recover is to use a checklist.

Include on your rehab center packing checklist the following items:

  • Comfortable shoes (avoid flip flops)
  • At least a week’s worth of comfortable clothing, such as t-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, leggings, tank tops, sweatshirts – whatever daywear you prefer
  • Socks, underwear, and other undergarments
  • Pajamas, a robe, and slippers
  • Personal hygiene products, including toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, deodorant, soap, hair spray, etc. (Some facilities provide some or all of the toiletries you need, but make sure you check in advance because some require them to be alcohol free)
  • Assistive devices, such as hearing aids, glasses, dentures, cane, etc.
  • Activities to pass the time when you aren’t engaged in rehabilitation activities (books, magazines, journal, and pen – most facilities provide a selection of these items)
  • Insurance, medical information including your insurance card, and your driver’s license

It’s also a good idea to bring an item or two from home that offers comfort, as long as it’s safe to do so. For example, a family photo or a favorite pillow are popular options. Just make sure whatever you bring isn’t highly valuable.

What NOT to Bring to Rehab

In addition to what you should bring with you to rehab, there are also several things you should not bring with you to rehab. This includes:

  • Perfume, cologne, or scented lotion (your fellow rehab residents might be sensitive to strong odors)
  • Cash or valuable items, including your wedding ring
  • Medication, even if it is over-the-counter medication or prescribed medications

Rehab programs are all different, but no matter what treatment center you choose, most require you to leave your medications behind. If you have concerns about prescription medication or OTC medication you usually use, speak to someone from the alcohol or drug rehab facility in advance.

You’ll have access to the medication you need while in rehab. It will be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you’ll bring your medication with you and turn it over to the staff during the intake process.

If you are a smoker or tobacco user, you might not be able to bring your cigarettes or other tobacco products while you are in a treatment program. Make sure you check in advance so you know if cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other items are banned.

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Common Questions About Rehab

Most people have questions about preparing for rehab. Even those committed to recovery might have anxiety about attending rehab. Knowing what you need with you and what you need to leave at home helps put your mind at ease and focus on your recovery.

Some of the most common questions about items allowed in rehab include:

Can I bring my pet to rehab?

It might surprise you to learn that some rehab programs allow you to bring your pet with you. Medical studies have shown that pets provide comfort to ICU patients and others during stressful times, including addiction recovery.

Don’t just bring your dog or cat along without asking first, but many rehab facilities have incorporated pets into their programs. They recognized the benefit of having a pet during stressful situations and they know that some people cannot attend in-patient rehab because of a pet being home alone.

Despite the benefits of allowing pets into rehab, not all facilities do allow this. It’s also important to remember that rehab, especially the initial phase of detox, is stressful. You might not be able to care for your pet if he or she is in the program with you. However, if this is something that interests you, search for pet-friendly programs.

What is the point of rehab?

Understanding the purpose of rehab is an important part of your recovery or helping a loved one recover from an addiction. 

The point is to provide a supportive environment to begin the recovery process that is free of the temptations and triggers someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) or behavioral health disorder faced in the non-rehab world. Rehab is also an opportunity to explore the root causes of addiction and learn better coping mechanisms and tools to deal with drugs and alcohol.

How long is rehab?

The length of rehab varies based on the individual. The average time in an inpatient facility for alcohol addiction or drug addiction is about a month. Behavioral health rehab lasts between 10 and 13 days.  

It’s also important to note that although rehab is a set period, recovery is an ongoing process. For many, challenges with addiction last a lifetime.

Can my family visit me in inpatient rehab?

Most rehab facilities allow visits from loved ones, but there will likely be restrictions. There might be a period before a resident can have visitors and once visitors are allowed, it will likely be during certain hours.

If you have a loved one in rehab and you are planning a visit, remember the following:

  • Be positive and upbeat but genuine
  • Don’t bring up the cost of rehab
  • Don’t focus too much on the future or what’s going to happen once the program is complete, especially early on
  • Avoid specific comments about your loved one’s physical appearance
  • Avoid pressuring or pestering your loved one about any issues
  • Be supportive

What happens when you get out of rehab?

Successful recovery means someone understands that his or her battle isn’t over once they complete rehab. After rehab, the things you do are as important as what you do during the weeks you are in a program.

As you return to your normal life, maintaining sobriety will be one of your greatest challenges. The good news is most rehab programs prepare you for the time following the completion of rehab. The risk of relapse is the greatest within the first six months after treatment. Having a plan for after you leave rehab and a treatment facility is a great way to reduce this risk.

After you get out of rehab, you’ll want to:

  • Focus on building relationships with drug- and alcohol-free people
  • Continue with individual therapy
  • Attend all medical check-ups
  • Participate in a 12-step or similar program for substance abuse
  • Avoid triggers, such as places, people, things, and emotions, that make you want to drink alcohol or use drugs as much as possible
  • Find new ways to fill your time, such as hobbies or spending time with a new social group that isn’t focused on drugs or alcohol

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Johns Hopkins University. “Therapy Dogs May Unlock Health Benefits for Patients in Hospital ICUs.” The Hub, HUB, 13 Feb. 2018,

Study Shows What Patients Need to Feel Comfortable During Hospital Stay. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

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