Going to rehab is no small task. It’s a big deal, an important decision, and a potentially life-changing experience for you and the people who care about you. But let’s be honest: rehab can feel scary, embarrassing, and even outright dreadful at first, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Obviously, the most important part is just showing up and committing to going to rehab. If you plan to stay for long, we know it can be a daunting decision of knowing what to pack for rehab.
We’ve been there. Rehab is not exactly the most exciting place to pack up and leave for. In fact, it can be kind of intimidating, scary, and completely unknown to a lot of us. That’s why we wanted to put together a simple guide on getting ready and packing for an inpatient rehab center.
Here’s a packing list along with some tips from the pros. This list is a great start, but it’s crucial to double-check with your rehab’s admissions office to make sure you don’t forget anything or bring something you’re not supposed to.
The important thing is that you’re bringing yourself. Worst case scenario—you check into rehab with the clothes on your back. If that happens, there’s usually a way to get what you need to feel comfortable while in rehab, especially in a local southern California setting. With that in mind, try not to get bogged down in the details of packing– it’s more about the reason you’re going to rehab in the first place.
Top Necessities to Pack for Rehab
First of all, don’t forget your pants! If you do, though, you wouldn’t be the first, so don’t stress about it. Most addiction treatment centers recommend that you pack enough clothes for at least one week.
Your facility may have a guideline or a recommended dress code, so pack accordingly. For example, it’s probably a good idea to leave your sheer tube top or anything promoting drugs or alcohol at home (even your favorite Cuervo shirt). Keep it simple!
Rehab can be a physically taxing experience, so comfortable clothing is a must. Don’t get too hung up on that, though—let’s take this one step at a time. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Pants (The most helpful styles here are “comfortable” and “elastic.” Your body is about to experience some unpredictable changes, courtesy of detox. Sometimes people lose weight, sometimes they fill out a little. Your best bet is to be prepared for both scenarios. A stretchy waistband is your friend. Depending on the treatment facility, you may also be allowed a belt.)
- Comfortable shirts
- Socks (one or two pairs for each day, in case you decide to exercise)
- Underwear, Bras
- Pajamas, Bathrobe
- Gym clothes (Exercise can be a positive aid to your recovery and is often part of the treatment plan. Make sure to bring clothes in which you’re comfortable breaking a sweat.)
- Sweaters or a Jacket (Sometimes, a detoxing body often has difficulty staying warm. Bad coffee and unfiltered cigarettes can’t make up for a good bunch of layers. Now is the time to break out that sweater Grandma knit you two Christmases ago—your sobering self will thank you.)
- Shoes (Comfy everyday shoes, shoes for working out, and flip-flops for the shower. If slippers are your thing, go ahead and toss in a pair of those, too.)
- Swimming suit (You may want to join in on a water aerobics class, or you could end up at a fancy rehab center with a hot tub. Either way, you’re going to be glad you brought a swimming suit. Most facilities require a one-piece for females)
Most treatment centers allow only new, unopened hygiene items. Not only that, all your products must be alcohol-free. The following objects are typically permitted at most facilities, but be prepared to have your personal hygiene items rigorously examined. Pack at least 30 days’ worth. And of course, stay informed and communicate with your rehab facility if they have unique rules or suggestions.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Shampoo, conditioner
- Comb, brush, hair clips
- Shaving cream, razor (Don’t worry, you don’t have to grow a beard as part of your sobriety. Most drug rehab centers allow you to shave, but sometimes they insist on being the keeper of the razors. Feel free to bring disposable razors with you, just be prepared to relinquish them upon entry.)
- Feminine hygiene products
Besides clothing and personal care items to keep you smelling good, what else should you bring? Here’s a checklist of important things to remember. In addition, check into your facility’s roster of activities: if you plan on taking part in equine-assisted psychotherapy or underwater basket weaving, pack accordingly.
- Medical insurance cards, if any
- Your legal photo ID
- Any current prescription medications in their original containers, as well as contact information for the prescribing physician in case the treatment center has any questions or concerns.
- Cash (a little bit for vending machines or off-site activities. You may run out of Camels and need to go on a supervised outing to the Chevron station. It’s best to stick to a small amount, though. You don’t want to lose a large sum of cash in rehab)
- Stamps, envelopes, etc. for personal mail
- Calling card for long-distance calls
- Pictures or small sentimental pieces of your life that give you hope
- Old-fashioned address book (you might not have access to your cell phone, or if you do, it is sometimes limited. It’s a good idea to bring contact information for family, friends, sponsors, and healthcare professionals.)
- Books, religious materials, magazines (make sure they are appropriate, of course)
- Journal or notebook (Not only can journaling be a therapeutic exercise, but it also provides a safe place for your sobering brain to dump your scrambled thoughts. It’s also helpful to have somewhere to jot down any valuable insights to remember from your treatment)
- Laundry soap, quarters (Check with your drug or alcohol treatment center about what they provide for laundry)
- Favorite pillow, blanket, teddy bear, etc.: most addiction treatment facilities provide all the bedding you might need, but if you want some added comfort, bring your own
- Jewelry… just not excessive or expensive bling, just to avoid any theft or drama.
What NOT to Pack for Rehab!
There are some things you should remember to not bring along with you to rehab. If you have to question it, it might be better to leave it at home or in storage. You don’t want to risk something getting taken away or stolen.
Don’t bother wasting valuable space in your bag on these prohibited items:
- Drugs, alcohol, or related paraphernalia
- Aerosol containers (hairspray must be pump only)
- Food or beverages in already opened bottles or containers
- Alcohol-based toiletries (mouthwash, cologne, etc.)
- Electronics (Cell phones are returned to you at the end of your stay or only used under staff supervision for special circumstances.)
- Nail polish or remover
- Weapons or sharp tools of any kind
Focus on What’s Important
Remember, you might forget socks or have to wear the same underwear for a week, but the important thing is this: you’re bringing yourself.
Give yourself a pat on the back and know that it’s possible to get clean while wearing your girlfriend’s skinny jeans and mismatched shoes. Even if you forget something important, or even if you just walk into rehab out of sheer desperation! Don’t worry about what “stuff” you bring along. Just go throw some stuff in a bag. You can do this.
At Opus Health, we understand the feelings that come along with heading to rehab for the first (or maybe fifth) time! We are here to support anyone who wants to make their recovery a success. So if you have any questions about rehab or maybe what to bring to our facility, contact us today.