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Updated on August 25, 2022

What to Bring to Rehab

What to Bring to Inpatient Rehab

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 daily activities. This means you need clothing, toiletries, and other personal items for your stay in rehab.

Every rehab center has different guidelines and policies on the items they allow and those they prohibit. To make sure that you're following their guidelines, ask a member of the admissions team before you pack. The best way to make sure you remember everything you need while you recover is to use a checklist.

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Packing Checklist

When packing for rehab, include several important items on your list. Here is a rehab center packing checklist for you:

Comfortable clothing

Most rehab treatment centers have a dress code, and they expect patients to adhere to this.

Pack clothes depending on the weather. If you're unsure, bring t-shirts, cardigans, sweaters, and jackets. Also, bring pants and shorts. Check your center's dress code for the length requirement of the shorts. Don't forget to bring undergarments, a bathing suit, a belt, a bathrobe, and pajamas.  

Footwear

Bring comfortable shoes that you can wear every day and a pair of tennis shoes for sports activities. Having flip-flops for the shower will also be good. Pack some socks, too.

Personal hygiene products

These items should be unopened and should include a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, hairbrush, shampoo and conditioner, feminine hygiene products, shaving cream, deodorant, soap, hair spray, sunscreen, and makeup.

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

Hearing aids, glasses, dentures, canes, etc. are allowed.

Recreational tools

This includes books, magazines, a journal, and pens (activities to pass the time when you aren’t engaged in rehabilitation activities). However, most facilities provide a selection of these items.

Important documents

Health insurance documents, medical information including your insurance card, pharmacy/prescription card, and your driver’s license. Credit or debit cards are not necessary inside rehab centers but having a small amount of cash for when you want to buy something from the vending machines is allowed.

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. An alarm clock is also allowed in some rehab centers. 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.

All rehab centers have a list of items that they do not allow to be brought inside. They do this to ensure the safety of everyone inside the treatment center and create an environment that is conducive to recovery.

While the list of prohibited items may vary from center to center, these items are almost always banned:

  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Aerosols
  • Cleaning supplies
  • DVDs, video games, playing cards
  • Electronics and gadgets
  • E-cigarettes
  • Outside food and drinks
  • Perfume, cologne, or scented lotion
  • Pornographic materials
  • Previously opened over-the-counter medications
  • Products that contain alcohol
  • Prohibited prescriptions
  • Pornographic materials
  • Sports equipment
  • Weapons (knives, guns, scissors, sharp objects)

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 ICU patients and others comfort 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 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 they are 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 can 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 with other family members, 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 their 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 alcohol or drug 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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Resources

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  1. Johns Hopkins University. “Therapy Dogs May Unlock Health Benefits for Patients in Hospital ICUs,” The Hub, HUB, 13 Feb. 2018.
  2. "Study Shows What Patients Need to Feel Comfortable During Hospital Stay," (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  3. Danquah-Amoah, Archibald & Charan, Amit. , "The Relevance of Rehabilitation Centers in our Communities," International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR). 6.
  4. NIDA. "How effective is drug addiction treatment?," National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 Jun. 2020.
  5. Tracy, Kathlene, and Samantha P Wallace. “Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction,” Substance abuse and rehabilitation vol. 7 143-154. 29 Sep. 2016, doi:10.2147/SAR.S81535.
  6. Laudet, Alexandre B et al. “Pathways to long-term recovery: a preliminary investigation,” Journal of psychoactive drugs vol. 34,3 : 305-11. doi:10.1080/02791072.2002.10399968.
  7.  

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