What to Pack for an Inpatient Recovery Program

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You’ve decided to get help at an inpatient recovery program and now you have to figure out what to pack. Just like packing for a trip, packing for a treatment center can feel overwhelming and it can be stressful. We can’t take away the anxiety you may be feeling by taking this brave step in your recovery, but we can help you be more prepared by providing information on what is allowed and not allowed in most rehab centers.

All treatment centers will have rules about what they allow and disallow. Unfortunately, all treatment centers vary, so there’s no common understanding about what to pack.

The good news is that most treatment centers provide a checklist of what you should bring. You’ll want to review the list for your center and stay within the guidelines provided.

The key is to think about the things in your life that make you comfortable and check your rehab center’s list to make sure those items are allowed.

Items Commonly Allowed in Rehab

While this list isn’t an all-inclusive list, it will get you started and cover most items you should consider packing for rehab:

  • Comfortable Clothing – You want to take comfortable clothing and shoes. This could include sweatpants, yoga pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tennis shoes.
  • Underclothes and Pajamas – Don’t forget your pj’s, slippers, a bathrobe.
  • Activity Clothing – Depending on your rehab’s offering, you might want to take hiking gear or a bathing suit.
  • Comfort Items – The treatment center provides bedding, towels, etc. But, if there’s a certain blanket or pillow that will help you relax and sleep well, you should bring it.
  • Toiletries – Treatment centers have rules about toiletries, so you’ll want to review those in advance. You will want to bring things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. A lot of treatment centers host various outdoor activities, so don’t forget your sunscreen.
  • Hair Tools – Most treatment centers allow you to bring a blow dryer, flat iron, or other hair styling tools. While you don’t need to fix up for treatment, you also want to feel comfortable and most like yourself.
  • Alarm Clock – Most people use their phones as alarm clocks. But sometimes you can’t have your phone at a treatment center. Despite not having your phone, you’ll need to maintain a schedule, so you need an old-fashioned alarm clock.
  • Paper Goods – Consider bringing books and a journal. Also, you may want envelopes, stationery, and stamps to write letters to your loved ones.
  • iPod – I know that sounds old school, but cell phones are generally not allowed. Many treatment centers encourage listening to music, so if music calms you, you’ll want to bring an old iPod and earbuds for listening.
  • Laundry Supplies – Whether you’ll need to do laundry depends on how long you’ll be at the center and how much clothing you plan to bring. It’s best to prepare to do laundry while you’re there.
  • Photos – Most of our photos today are on our phones. You may want to print small photos of family, friends, and other loved ones to put in your room. Again, this depends on how long you’ll be at the treatment center and whether these images will aid in your recovery.
  • Medications – If you are on prescription medications, you can bring those in the original packaging.
  • Documents – Bring documents including your ID, insurance card, and prescription information. You also should bring a list of the names and contact numbers of people you may want to call while you’re there.
  • Money – You may need a credit card and a small amount of cash for vending machines while you’re in treatment. If you pack about $50 in ones and fives you should be covered.
  • Something to Read – You’ll have downtime, so having some books or magazines to read will help pass the time and keep occupied. Some rehab centers will allow e-readers.

Items Generally Not Allowed in Rehab

While there are a lot of things you can and should bring to inpatient treatment, there are other items you must leave at home. You’ll want to check your treatment center’s checklist for specific rules about what you shouldn’t bring.

Items you generally shouldn’t take to inpatient treatment include:

  • Weapons (this includes scissors, knives, or other sharp tools)
  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Valuables (this includes jewelry)
  • Electronics (this includes cell phones or anything with internet access)
  • Pets
  • Pornographic materials
  • Outside food and beverages
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Revealing or inappropriate clothing

You also shouldn’t bring any item to treatment that might impede your recovery.

Items Treatment Centers May Allow

There are some specific things that treatment centers are divided on. You may want to ask specifically about these items if you’re interested in taking them.

Items treatment centers may allow include:

  • Makeup – Some treatment centers say to leave your makeup at home. This rule likely is because of the ingredients and because worrying about appearance may distract you from treatment.
  • Aerosol Sprays – Some treatment centers don’t allow aerosol sprays like deodorants or hairspray, while others don’t seem to mind.
  • Product with Alcohol – Some treatment centers won’t allow you to bring products that contain alcohol, like mouthwash or perfume. What they allow likely depends on your treatment center and the type of treatment patients receive there.
  • Razors – Some treatment centers allow you to bring razors or trimmers for shaving. Others do not.
  • Tobacco – Some treatment centers are smoke-free, while others allow vapes, cigarettes, etc. You’ll need to check with your center on what they allow. If they allow these products, and you use them, be sure to take plenty for your stay. You may consume more than usual.

It’s Okay to Ask Questions

Deciding to enter an inpatient treatment program is a brave and exciting step towards a happier, healthier future! Br proud of your decision and the strength you’ve found to take this journey.

As you pack for rehab, remember that you can always contact the treatment facility ahead of time and ask questions. Remember the staff is there to help you and they want your time at rehab to be successful. They understand the anxiety you might be feeling, and they want to help make your entrance into treatment is as positive as possible.