What to Bring / Not to Bring to to Rehab
What Can I Bring With Me to Treatment?
Rehabs have very strict policies about what you can bring with you to treatment. Most centers provide a recommended packing checklist and a list of prohibited items.
"Treatment centers allow you to bring the necessities. Policies on extra items vary by center."
When you arrive at rehab, you will check in and begin the admissions process. During this time, your center’s admissions team will inspect your bags to ensure safety and that no prohibited items are brought in. Some centers will also catalog what you bring to make sure you don’t leave anything behind when you leave.
What Most Rehabs Recommend You Bring
Each rehab’s policies are different and some are stricter than others. For the most part, it’s recommended to bring the following:
- A list of names, addresses and phone numbers of those you wish to have involved in your treatment (loved ones, healthcare professionals, 12 step sponsors, etc.).
- Jewelry that you wear every day and consider to be a necessity, like your wedding ring or a watch. Otherwise, leave valuable items at home.
- An alarm clock that does not have a radio. Some centers will supply these, so check with yours before going out to buy one.
- Your current prescription medication in the original pharmacy bottle with the information label intact. Any liquid medications must be new and sealed. You should also bring a list of all your medications and dosages.
- A small amount of cash ($50 to $100 in smaller bills for store runs, vending machines, etc.).
- Your checkbook, credit card or debit card to pay for treatment medications.
- Your insurance cards and a form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.).
- A calling card (if your facility requires them for long distance phone calls).
- A notebook or journal.
- Stamps and envelopes if you wish to mail letters.
- Pictures of your loved ones to keep in your room or wallet.
- Your rehab will likely provide reading materials for you. If you want to bring your own, they’re usually required to be recovery, self-help or spiritually oriented. TIP: bring paperback books as they’re easier to carry around than hardcovers.
What Clothing You Should Bring
Most rehabs have a very strict dress code, so be aware of any restrictions while you’re packing. If you’re unsure about how to pack for the weather, pack layering options, like T-shirts, sweaters, cardigans and jackets. Keep in mind, space in your room may be limited, so try not to overpack.
You should have access to a laundry machine at your center, so a week’s worth of clothing should be enough. Be sure to pack clothes that are easy to wash and do not require special care, such as dry cleaning.
Be sure to bring seven days worth of comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing, including:
- shoes: comfy shoes for everyday wear, tennis shoes for activities/sports and flip flops for the shower
- shirts: if bringing tank tops, make sure you also pack cardigans to wear with them to comply with your center’s dress code
- shorts: may have to be a certain length to comply with your center’s dress code
- one or two “dressy” outfits for special occasions, like Family Night
- a bathing suit: a one piece is usually required for women, trunks for men
- a coat/jacket
- a bath robe
- a belt
- a hat: your center may not allow hats indoors
Personal Hygiene and Beauty Products to Pack
Most rehabs require all toiletries and beauty products to be completely alcohol-free. Others will allow you to bring products that do not have alcohol listed in the first three ingredients. Do not bring aerosols.
Bring thirty days worth of toiletries and beauty products, including:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- shampoo and conditioner
- hair styling products (pump hair spray only)
- feminine hygiene products
- shaving cream
Items You Should Not Bring to Rehab
All rehabs prohibit certain items and have strict rules. They do so to ensure your safety and to create the best environment for your recovery. It varies by center, but the following items are almost always banned:
- Drugs and alcohol
- Narcotics or prohibited prescriptions
- Weapons (guns, knives, scissors, sharp objects, etc.)
- Food or drinks
- Toiletries and beauty products that contain alcohol (mouthwash, perfume, etc.)
- Electronic cigarettes
- Unapproved or previously opened OTC medications
- Nail polish, polish remover or synthetic nail related products
- Video games and DVDs
- Sporting equipment
- Revealing clothing (tank tops, sleeveless shirts, midriff bearing tops, etc.)
- Cleaning supplies (bleach, ammonia, etc.)
- Electronics (televisions, gaming consoles, etc.)
- Games and playing cards
- Candles and incense
- Clothing with profanity or references to drugs, alcohol or violence
You may be surprised by some of the items on this list, like games and playing cards, video games and DVDs and sporting equipment. These items are prohibited to help you avoid distractions and allow you to focus on your recovery. Your center will have items like these available to you during certain times.
You’ll also find that outside food and drinks are banned because many centers maintain a moderate sugar and caffeine environment. Three meals a day, snacks and beverages will be provided to you. If you have special dietary needs, notify your rehab before you’re admitted.
Some Rehabs Allow These Items, Others Do Not
Each treatment center has their own policies, so some rehabs may prohibit an item that’s allowed at another. While many things are prohibited across the board, the following may be allowed at some facilities:
- Cell phone and laptop. If your rehab allows these items, you will likely only have access to them at certain times. Make sure you don’t forget your power cords!
- Cigarettes. If you smoke, some facilities will allow you to bring cigarettes. These centers usually have a limit on how many cartons you can bring.
- Vitamins and over the counter medications. These must be new and unopened.
- Gum. Must be unopened and sealed.
- MP3 player or CD player. Devices without internet access or speakers may be allowed.
- Camera.For those who are shutterbugs, some centers allow cameras that are not internet capable.
- Disposable razor or electric razor. Razors can be dangerous, so some centers prohibit them completely. However, more often than not, disposable razors are allowed.
- Nail clippers.Nail clippers are banned at some centers, but not all.
- Items to make your room feel more like home. You may be allowed to bring your own bedding, pillows and other items to make your room more comfortable.Make sure to double check with your rehab before packing any of these items.
Where To Find Packing Information
If you’re unsure about bringing an item or have questions about what to pack, check your rehab’s website for a “What to Bring” page. If they do not have this page, look for a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section. Some centers even offer printable packing checklists that you can refer to while packing.
"If you still can’t find the information you need, call your rehab’s admissions office."
They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about what to bring. They can also guide you through the admissions process and explain the need for their policies if you have any concerns.
If I Bring Something Prohibited, Will I Get it Back Later?
If you arrive at your center and realize you’ve packed something prohibited, don’t worry! Most rehabs will send prohibited items home with the person who brought you to the center. Others will hold your items for 24 hours until someone comes to pick them up. In some cases, your center may store the items for you until you leave.
If you’re traveling by plane to get to your center, chances are you won’t have a loved one with you when you’re admitted to take items home. It is recommended that you call your center before you leave home to double check their policies. If you pack something prohibited by mistake, you’ll want to make sure those items will be returned at some point. If they will not store them, ask if they’ll ship them home for you.
Packing for rehab can be easy! Just follow your center’s policies and ask questions if you’re unsure about an item. Look for a packing checklist on your rehab’s website to make the process even easier. As a general rule, try to pack light and keep it to the necessities.
Get Help Now
Many treatment centers allow you freedom to bring things that make your life more comfortable during treatment. Our treatment specialists can help you find the best center for your needs.
Contact us now for help finding a center.
Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center. (2015). "What to Bring to Rehab." Retrieved on June 29, 2015 http://parc.memorialhermann.org/resources/drug-rehab-items/
The Discovery House. (2015). "What to Bring to Rehab." Retrieved on June 29, 2015 http://www.thediscoveryhouse.com/about/what-to-bring/
Cornerstone of Southern California. (2015). "What to Pack (and what NOT to Pack) Guide." Retrieved on June 29, 2015 http://www.cornerstonesocal.com/admissions/what_to_bring.html
The Ranch. (2015). "What To Bring." Retrieved on June 29, 2015 http://www.recoveryranch.com/admissions/what-to-bring/