Getting treatment is one of the most important decisions of one’s life. However, once you have decided to go into a rehab facility, you may become overwhelmed with preparing for the experience. One of the most common queries that people have is what they should bring. Deciding what to pack for rehabilitation is quite simple if you divide your packing into a few simple categories: clothing, toiletries, medical needs, and communications supplies.
THE BASICS OF PACKING FOR REHAB
There are a few rules that are common among almost all programs. First, you will be allowed to bring the bare necessities you will need to survive for the duration of your treatment.
Second, once you have arrived and checked in, a member of the staff will go through your belongings to ensure that you have everything you need and that you are not carrying items that are not allowed. Some also will take an inventory of what you have brought to ensure that you leave with everything that you came with.
Each center has its unique list of what you should and should not bring. Ask them to provide you with this list if you have any questions.
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
Many programs have a strict dress code, so keep this in mind when filling your suitcase. Also, be sure to consider the weather conditions in the area where the facility is located. When in doubt, choose layering options so you can dress for any weather.
It is important to bring only what you need, as closet and storage space may be limited. However, you will probably want to bring many of the following:
- Comfortable shoes including athletic shoes and non-slip shoes for the shower
- Shirts that are weather appropriate and comply with the facility dress code
- Pants or shorts that are comfortable, practical, and modest
- Undergarments and socks
- A coat or jacket
- Pajamas and/or loungewear
- A modern bathing suit
- A dressy outfit for special occasions
You should ask before bringing the following items:
- Jewelry, even things like wedding rings
Almost all facilities will give you access to a clothing washer and dryer. As a result, you will only need about one week’s worth of clothing. However, you should make sure that it is easily washable and can be put through a typical wash and dry without garments that need dry clean, or special treatment.
HYGIENE AND BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Most rehabs will allow and even encourage you to bring all of the hygiene products that you need to feel and smell great for the duration of your treatment. However, there are several common restrictions. Most will restrict alcohol in some way, whether banning products containing it altogether or limiting how much each product can contain. Also, many ban aerosol containers and unsealed, opened packages. You should plan to bring around a 30 day supply of:
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
- SHaving cream (ask about razors!)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hairstyling supplies including products, brush/comb, and hair ties
- Feminine hygiene supplies
If you wish to bring items that do not fit into these categories, talk to your facility ahead of time.
Many people who are entering treatment have medical needs. If you take medications or otherwise need to take care of your health, you are not alone. Almost all programs will allow the following:
- Prescription medications in the original labeled bottle, with all liquids unopened
- Insurance cards and personal identification as needed to acquire refills
- Supplements and over-the-counter medications that have been prescribed by a doctor and are in labeled containers
If you have other medical needs, be sure to talk to your program ahead of time. It is essential to ensure that a facility is right for you before beginning the program.
COMMUNICATION AND MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES
Most programs will eventually allow and even encourage you to communicate with your loved ones. Rebuilding your relationships and learning to communicate is an essential part of your recovery. As a result, you should bring the following:
- A printed list of the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other contact information for your loved ones, doctor, 12 step sponsor, and any other contacts you may need
- A calling card if you will need one to make calls
- Change for payphones if needed
- Stamps, envelopes, and paper for writing letters
- A journal for reflecting on your own thoughts
- Photos of pets and loved ones to motivate you in your journey
Most programs do not allow access to cell phones, tablets, computers, or other devices. As a result, your communication during this time will be mostly analog. When you pack, consider how you will be communicating with the people you love.
“ASK FIRST” ITEMS
There are a few items that some rehabs allow while other bans. Cash is one of these items. Some rehab facilities have vending machines, trips to town, and other occasions in which spending money is not just okay but needed. Others do not allow patients to bring in cash.
Alarm clocks are another area where practices vary. Some facilities encourage you to bring an alarm clock without a radio. Others will supply these. If you are bringing one, choose the simplest one possible.
Last, reading materials are allowed at some programs but not others. Also, many programs will only allow certain types of reading material, such as holy books and self-help publications. Most facilities will provide plenty of ways to engage your spirit and mind. If you are allowed to bring books and choose to do so, bring paperbacks. These are lighter, smaller, and will be less of a loss if lost.
Although it can be stressful to pack for a thirty-day experience, it is important to keep the process in perspective. This treatment program is the beginning of a new and sober life. The packing and rules are just a small inconvenience along the path to a healthier and more whole life.