What to Take and What to Leave: Packing Your Bag for Drug Rehab

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You’ve made the life-changing decision to go to inpatient drug rehab. You know where you’re going and when you’re going to leave, but you still aren’t sure what to pack. Although not all inpatient programs will have the same dos and don’ts, the following is a good, general list of everything you need for drug and alcohol treatment and everything you don’t.

What should I pack for drug rehab?

Most facilities have a specific list of what you should bring to drug and alcohol inpatient rehab. If it wasn’t offered to you during your screening or admissions call, check out the company’s website or pick up the phone and ask.

Otherwise, here are the basics of what you can or should bring for your rehab stay, whether you’re there for 28 days or three months.

  • A written list of phone numbers and addresses
  • Stamps and envelopes
  • Current medications in the original prescription bottles
  • Over the counter medications (must be new and unopened)
  • Unopened cigarettes
  • A small amount of money ($100 or less) for vending machines and other miscellaneous expenses
  • Co-payments for prescriptions (can also be paid by credit card)
  • Insurance cards
  • ID
  • A journal or notebook
  • Books—some facilities only allow recovery focused books
  • Pictures of family, friends, or pets (most facilities will want these unframed)
  • A week’s worth of clothes that are comfortable and that you can layer
  • Pajamas
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops for the shower
  • One-piece bathing suit
  • Slippers
  • Alcohol-free toiletries
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Electric razor

What shouldn’t I bring to drug rehab?

Just as important as what you bring, every drug and alcohol treatment facility has a list of prohibited items you should not try to bring. Here’s a list to get you started.

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Any toiletries with alcohol in them
  • Sample medications
  • Jewelry, except what you wear every day
  • More than $100
  • Smartphones, smartwatches, iPads and other electronics (some facilities to allow patients to bring these, but will not permit their use for the first few days)Excessive or distracting clothing or makeup
  • Aerosol cans (hairspray, deodorant, etc.)
  • Weapons, including pocket knives and any other sharp object that could be used as a weapon
  • Prescription narcotics
  • Pornography
  • Outside food or drink
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Playing cards
  • Anything with profanity
  • Anything that glorifies drug use

What If You Pack Something by Mistake?

If you end up picking something that’s not allowed, don’t panic. Chances are the facility is not going to throw it away (unless it’s illegal or perishable). When you get to inpatient drug treatment, an intake worker will go through the items you brought with you, and itemize them on a list. If there is anything that’s prohibited, most programs will lock the items up until the time when you are discharged and they will be returned to your possession.

What to remember about packing for rehab

Most people hate being told what they can and can’t have, especially when they’re away from home, but remember, these rules are based on years of treatment experience, with the best interest of all patients in mind. Some rules are to protect the health and safety of patients, some rules are to support your recovery progress, and some rules are to make sure that you don’t risk losing anything valuable during your stay.

While certain facilities will allow a greater range of personal items, such as comforters and pillows, to make a room homey, others will prohibit these items. Ask in advance to be sure, and no matter the response, remember that this is just the first step in a journey that will help you create a healthier, happier future for yourself.