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What to Pack for Rehab: The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Inpatient Rehab‌

‌Packing for rehab is not a difficult task, but surely a tricky one. And if you are going rehab for the first time, then you definitely should be at a loss!

According to Statista, the number of people one at substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States was around 1 million in 2020. People enter these facilities for different problems, including alcohol addiction, weed addiction, anger management, substance abuse, and so on.

There are certain rules to follow when you sign up for an inpatient rehab facility. Delve into this blog to get a detailed idea on what you can bring according to the rehab rules of your facility. 

What to Bring to Rehab

How to Prepare: Communicating with the Facility for Specific Recommendations

Before packing items for the rehab facility, it’s best if you talk to them beforehand and get a clear idea. There are some general rules and regulations in most rehabilitation centers. Some items are prohibited everywhere (i.e., alcohol, weapons, drugs, etc.).

But your particular rehabilitation center might have some specific rules that you have to follow. So before making a checklist, find out which items would be acceptable in the rehab.

You can check the website of the rehab center to see if there’s any information on what items patients are allowed to bring. One of my colleagues, who is an inpatient rehab successor, shared his amazing experience with us. He mentioned that people in rehab are mostly always helpful. It was his first time and  people from the center were friendly enough. They can help you make a checklist on what to bring.

In the meantime, this can give you a good idea of what items should be included in your list.

Necessary Items Recommended by Most Rehabilitation Centers and Packing Checklist

necessary items are mentioned with examples recommended by most rehabs
MedicationYou can bring medicines that are already prescribed to you. Remember to bring the original pharmacy bottle so you can get a refill if necessary
Contacts listYou can have a list of important contacts, including your healthcare professionals, and sponsors for the program (if you have any)
JewelryHeavy or gaudy jewelry are not allowed in rehab facilities. However, you can have your most essential pieces, such as your wedding ring or a watch
Alarm clocksBring alarm clocks but avoid the ones that come with a radio
MoneyYou can have some cash for occasional runs to the store, but not too much. You can also have your credit cards, debit cards and checkbooks on hand (to pay for the medications)
DocumentsKeep your important documents with you while you’re in rehab. Such as – identification papers, insurance papers, medical reports, etc.
Items for PastimeNotebook, journals, pictures of your loved ones, calendar, envelopes, papers for writing letters, your personal blanket or pillow (anything that helps you cope or calm down) etc.
Personal ItemsHeavy or gaudy jewelry is not allowed in rehab facilities. However, you can have your most essential pieces, such as your wedding ring or a watch
Calling CardIf you need to make any long-distance call to your family members or doctor, keep your calling card with you.
Packing checklist

Clothing Recommendations

You might be required to wear specific clothing depending on the treatment facility’s guidelines. Some facilities have specific clothes for rehab patients that would be handed to you when you get admitted.

I think that you might still have to pack some clothes for your inpatient rehab program. While packing clothes for the rehab facility, it’s best to keep a few things in mind.

  • Pack clothes that are weather-appropriate. Your clothes should be comfortable and tasteful.
  • Bring pants and trousers that are comfortable. Avoid skinny or constricting pants or jeans.
  • When you pack shirts, make sure that they go with the dress code of your facility. If you plan on bringing vests or tank tops, make sure there are cardigans or sweaters to wear over them.
  • Bring shoes with non-skid soles. Your shoes should be soft and comfortable. Athletic shoes or sneakers are the best choice.
  • Pack enough socks to last your recovery program. You can have some extra fluffy socks to wear at night if your feet tend to get cold.
  • You can also pack some extra pair of slippers to wear indoors.
  • Belts (check with your rehab facility since some places don’t allow patients to bring belts. They can be hazardous)
  • Pack comfortable and plain undergarments for your stay at the facility.
  • Bring pajamas for sleeping in at night.
  • You can also bring bathing suits, but nothing too explicit (one piece for women and swimming trunks for men).
  • Pack a bathrobe to wear after taking a shower.
  • Coats, jackets, sweaters, hoodies – any winter clothing items you pack should be weather appropriate and decent.
  • Headwear – you can have hats or caps, but that depends on the rehab center’s policies.

Personal Hygiene grooming Products + other expected household items

Most rehab facilities would allow you to bring toiletries, bathing and grooming products as long as they are alcohol-free. Pack enough supplies to last you throughout your stay at the facility.

My colleague shared that, as it was his first time, he forgot to take some of his personal hygiene products. But the amenities available there was enough for him to cope up with that situation.

According to my experience, here is a list of grooming products and toiletries that you can bring to your rehab center:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo, conditioner
  • Hair styling combs, brushes, serum
  • Deodorant (alcohol-free)
  • Shaving cream
  • Sunscreen, lotion
  • Makeup items
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand towels, face towels (if allowed by the rehabilitation center)

Items Not Allowed in Rehab (Prohibited)

List of commonly Prohibited items in Most Centers including:

  • Any sort of illicit drug (unless they are prescribed medications)
  • Medications that you do not have prescriptions for, or medicines without an original container
  • Any kind of alcoholic drink (beer, vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc.)
  • Toiletries that have alcohol in them (room fresheners with alcohol, aerosols, etc.)
  • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, etc. (unless they are part of your medication)
  • Hazardous items – lighter, candles, flammable objects, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies (might contain alcohol or harmful chemicals)
  • Outside food or drinks (you would be on a diet to help with your rehab, outside food items can hinder the process)
  • Any sharp objects or weapons (knives, scalpels, scissors, pocket knives, nail clippers, etc.)
  • Pornography (video, magazines, etc.)
  • Inappropriate or too-revealing clothes
  • Any kind of games (video games, Gameboy, board games, playing cards, etc.) since they can prove counter-productive during your recovery

What You May Bring To The Rehabilitation Center Depending on Varying Established Policies

List of Allowable or Restricted Items Based On Respective Rehabilitation Policies

  • Cell phones, laptops – some facilities allow their patients to bring phones and laptops. But they allow limited access; you can use them for some specific hours.
  • Other devices – you can bring MP3 or CD players to listen to your favorite music (as long as they do not require internet access). Some facilities also allow cameras that do not need internet to work.
  • Cigarettes – some facilities do allow cigarettes for people with a smoking habit. They often have a limitation on how many cigarettes you can bring or how many you can have in one day.
  • Vitamins – you can bring your vitamins or other OTC (over-the-counter) medications as long as they have an unopened seal.
  • Gums – whether they are for curing your nicotine addiction or something else, some facilities would allow you to bring gums considering they are unopened.
  • Nail clippers – not all rehab facilities ban nail clippers. Some places would let you bring one (it’s for grooming!).
  • Razors – most facilities prohibit sharp objects like razors. But some rehab centers allow disposable razors or even electric razors so you can shave.

Where to Find Packing Information (in Rehabilitation Guides)

Unless you were handed a packing list for inpatient rehab, you have to come up with your own rehab checklist.

The most convenient way of finding the list of items you are allowed to bring is by checking the website of your chosen facility. You can go under their “Frequently Asked Questions” sections to see if there are answers to what the patients are allowed to bring.

A lot of the facilities provide such information on their websites so the patients can pack accordingly. For example, I have seen that patients can also ask them to provide with a printed checklist for what items to bring.

You can contact the admissions or administrative division of the rehab facility to get a checklist. Even if they do not hand you a checklist, they would at least give you the guide containing all the information and rehab rules of that facility.

Handling Prohibited Items

If you do end up packing some prohibited items (intentionally or unintentionally), there are ways to handle that. It depends on your rehabilitation center that which approach they would choose to handle the situation.

You can be asked to send the prohibited items back home. If there are any family members or close friends accompanying you as you get into the inpatient facility, the attendees there might ask the person with you to bring the prohibited items back home.

Some facilities have separate storage shed for keeping said prohibited items. They would simply confiscate anything they deem prohibited while you are getting admitted into the facility and keep them in storage. You would be allowed to have them back after when you go home.

There are facilities that would allow you to have these “prohibited” items. But they would do a thorough check beforehand to make sure there is nothing hidden that can violate the rehab rules.

What to pack for 30-day rehab?

‌When you are signing up for a 30-day rehab, think hard before making your checklist. Bring items that are allowed in the facility and keep some comfort items that would help you through the process.

Here is an example of what to bring when you are packing for a 30-day rehab:

  • Weather-appropriate clothes (pants, trousers, shirts, sleeping suit, socks, and undergarments)
  • Comfortable shoes that has a non-skidding sole, pair of slippers
  • Toiletries (without alcohol)
  • Prescribed medications (with original bottle)
  • Important documents
  • Medical reports
  • Grooming items
  • An alarm clock
  • Some cash
  • Personal items that are allowed (notebook, journal, pictures, blankets, etc.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to pack for rehab?

Pack only the essential items for your stay at the rehab center. Clothes, shoes, contact information, personal items, important documents, medical files – these should be on your rehab packing list.

Check with the rehab facility before packing your things and see which items are allowed.

What to do with your dog while in rehab?

Some rehab facilities allow pets, but the number is very scarce. While you are in rehab, you can look for alternative options to keep your dog. There are boarding facilities that would keep your dog while you are away. These facilities cost around $40 per night.

You can also ask someone in your family, neighborhood, or friend circle to take care of the dog while you’re in rehab.

What should you send someone in rehab?

When you visit someone in rehab, bring something that they can enjoy. Keep in mind that whatever you bring would be thoroughly checked by the staff. So don’t bring anything too embarrassing.

Something simple is always recommended, like – cards, handwritten notes, letters, photographs, dry snacks (if the facility allows), books, etc.

Whether you go to a rehab facility for one day or one month – be mindful of what you pack. Make sure that all the items you select do not violate the rehab rules of the facility.

Inpatient rehab facilities might seem a little scary since you have to stay away from your home for the program. But it is necessary to help you recover from your issues and get back to your life as a better person.

Tony McKenzie

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