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What To Pack When Going To An Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Center

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

March 8, 2019

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers generally have very specific guidelines on what an individual can bring to treatment and may also provide a recommended packing checklist. Knowing to bring and what not to bring can help make the packing process much easier.

Upon arriving at a treatment facility, individuals will check in and begin the admission process. During check-in, the center’s admissions team will inspect bags to ensure there are no prohibited items brought into the facility in order to ensure everyone’s safety. Some drug and alcohol rehab centers may also catalog an individual’s belongings to make sure they don’t forget anything when they leave.

Recommended Items To Pack When Going To An Inpatient Rehab Center

Every treatment center has their own policy about what individuals can or cannot bring with them. Some policies may be more strict than others, depending on the rehab center.

Most treatment programs recommend bringing:

  • names, addresses, and phone numbers of loved ones, healthcare professionals, 12-step sponsors, or anyone else an individual wishes to involve in their treatment
  • everyday jewelry, such as a watch or wedding ring
  • current prescription medications in their original container with the information label intact (any liquid medications must be new and sealed)
  • a list of all current medications and dosages
  • some spending cash for vending machines or grocery store runs
  • a checkbook, or credit or debit card to pay for treatment medications
  • insurance cards and a form of ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • a prepaid phone card (for long distance phone calls)
  • a notebook or journal
  • stamps, envelopes, and paper for writing letters
  • pictures of loved ones

Clothes To Bring To An Inpatient Rehab Center

Drug and alcohol rehab centers can have very strict dress codes. Be sure to check if the center has any clothing restrictions, prior to packing. It is usually recommended to pack five to seven days’ worth of comfortable, weather-appropriate outfits, including:

  • a comfortable pair of everyday shoes, tennis shoes (for activities or sports), and shower shoes or flip-flops
  • shirts (be careful when packing tank tops, as most facilities have policies against them, or make sure to pack a cardigan to wear over them)
  • comfortable pants
  • appropriate-length shorts (some centers may require shorts to be a specific length)
  • one or two dressier outfits (for special occasions)
  • a week’s worth of socks and underwear
  • a bathing suit (a one-piece is often required for women and trunks for men)
  • pajamas
  • coat or jacket
  • bathrobe
  • belt
  • a hat (some centers may not allow hats to be worn inside)
  • slippers

Individuals usually have access to laundry machines and should try to bring machine-washable clothes. Try not to overpack, as available space may be limited.

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Personal Hygiene Items To Bring To An Inpatient Rehab Center

All toiletries and beauty products taken to residential treatment are generally required to be alcohol-free, however, some centers may allow products with alcohol if alcohol is not listed as one of the first three ingredients in the product.

It is best to bring enough toiletries to last the length of treatment. Toiletries to consider packing include:

  • deodorant/antiperspirant
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • hairbrush or comb
  • feminine hygiene products
  • lotion
  • sunscreen
  • alcohol-free makeup

Items Not To Pack When Going To An Inpatient Rehab Center

Most rehabilitation centers have strict policies for certain items, such as:

  • drugs and alcohol
  • narcotics and certain prescriptions
  • weapons (guns, knives, scissors, sharp objects, etc.)
  • pornography
  • outside food and drink
  • toiletries containing alcohol
  • electronic cigarettes
  • unapproved or previously opened over-the-counter medications
  • nail polish, nail-polish remover, and other synthetic nail products
  • video games and DVDs
  • sporting equipment
  • revealing clothes (tank tops, midriff-baring tops, short shorts, etc.)
  • clothing with profanity or references to alcohol, drugs, or violence
  • aerosol sprays (Febreze, hairspray, etc.)
  • cleaning supplies (bleach, ammonia, etc.)
  • electronics (televisions, gaming consoles, etc.)
  • board games or playing cards
  • candles and incense

Items such as games, playing cards, video games and consoles, televisions and DVDs, and sporting equipment are typically not permitted in order to prevent distractions, allowing individuals to focus on recovery. However, these items may be provided by the rehab center during specific times.

Outside food and drink may also be banned, as many inpatient treatment programs follow specific dietary guidelines to aid in the recovery process. Most centers will provide three meals a day, snacks, and beverages. If an individual has certain dietary restrictions, such as a food allergy, inform the center before being admitted.

Belongings That May Or May Not Be Permitted

Each treatment center will have its own guidelines for what they will allow and prohibit. While almost all rehab centers do not allow certain items, the following items typically have varying guidelines:

  • cell phones and laptop computers (if these are permitted, they will usually only be available during certain times)
  • cigarettes (some facilities may permit cigarettes, but will typically limit the number of cartons an individual can bring)
  • vitamins and other over-the-counter medications (must be new and unopened)
  • chewing gum (must be new and sealed)
  • MP3 or CD players (devices without internet access or speakers are generally allowed)
  • cameras (that are not internet capable)
  • disposable and electric razors
  • nail clippers

Items that remind someone of home, such as personal bedding and pillows may also be permitted, depending on the facility.

What If A Prohibited Item Gets Packed?

When someone arrives at a treatment center with a prohibited item, most of the time it is sent home with the person who dropped them off. If they were not dropped off, some centers may store the item until the individual has completed treatment. If a center is not able to store an item, it is always possible to ask them to ship it home or to a friend.

Packing for an inpatient treatment program doesn’t have to be stressful. Individuals should note any specific policies for the center they plan to attend and proceed from there.

Where To Find Packing Information

Have questions about a specific item? Most facilities will have a “What To Bring” page on their website. If not, it’s possible the information may be provided on a “Frequently Asked Questions” page instead. Some facilities may also offer a printable packing checklist for individuals to reference.

Finding An Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Center

It is the goal of most treatment facilities to allow individuals the freedom to bring items that will make their stay as comfortable as possible. Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs can provide someone with a new environment to help them focus solely on their addiction recovery.

For more information on what to pack when going to inpatient treatment, contact a specialist.

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