Overhead view of hands packing suitcaseIt is not unusual to feel anxious or worried about going to rehab. One cause for concern can be uncertainty about what can and should be brought to your program. Rehab facilities typically have strict rules about the types of items that can be taken to treatment. As a result, many centers provide a checklist of items that are allowed as well as prohibited.

While there are differences between many facilities, some items are commonly recommended. If you are not sure whether a certain item is allowed, you can call your inpatient rehab program to find out. In addition, the rehab center might allow family members or friends to bring any items you might have forgotten.

Items You Should Bring to Rehab

Once a person arrives and checks in to their residential rehab program, their bags might be searched to ensure no restricted items have been packed. Staff members at the facility may also take an inventory of the individual's belongings to make sure nothing is left behind when they leave.

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It is typically recommended to bring at least one week’s worth of clean, comfortable clothes that comply with the center’s dress code. Some facilities have guidelines on the type of clothes to bring. Packing clothes that are easy to care for and allow you to add or remove of layers as the weather changes is often helpful, as is including pajamas, a sweater, and appropriate shoes for any activities you participate in. If the facility has a swimming pool, for example, you might want to include a swimsuit.

Although many residential rehab programs provide basic toiletries, you can often bring toothpaste, lotion, shower gel, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, or other personal products from home. 

Bring any necessary medications as well as documented information on the prescribed dosages. Prescription medications should be in their original packaging with the label intact. Some inpatient rehab centers insist liquid medications be new and unopened. Cynthia Turner, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction, explains, “The nursing staff will hold onto and dispense any medication you are prescribed.”

Items that have sentimental value, such as a stuffed animal, wedding ring, or pictures of loved ones, can help keep people grounded during treatment. Comfortable bedding and a novel that promotes mental and emotional well-being may also make your time in rehab more satisfying. 

Other recommended items include:

  • Contact information, for loved ones or other health care professionals involved in treatment
  • Alarm clock
  • Hair dryer
  • Laundry supplies
  • A small amount of money, for vending machines or minor store purchases
  • Insurance cards
  • Valid identification
  • Checkbook, credit card, or debit card, to purchase medication for treatment
  • Calling cards, for long distance telephone calls
  • Journal
  • Flip-flops
  • Bathrobe
  • Envelopes and stamps, for writing letters to loved ones

What You Should Not Bring to Rehab

While some items contribute to a positive experience in rehab, others can have a negative effect on recovery. Smartphones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets are not usually recommended, as they can distract from treatment. According to Turner, “Most programs have a ‘blackout’ period where you are away from all technology.” Items that may be banned by your rehab center are:

  • Razors, scissors, knives, or other sharp tools
  • Weapons
  • Excessive money, jewelry, or clothing
  • Books with themes that could negatively impact recovery
  • Shoes with laces
  • Mouthwash
  • Perfume
  • Alcohol
  • Illicit drugs
  • Tobacco 

Some items allowed at one rehab facility may be prohibited by others. It is important to call before you arrive to make sure you know the rules of your specific treatment center.


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  2. What to bring to rehab. (2017, September 12). Addiction Center. Retrieved from https://www.addictioncenter.com/rehab-questions/what-to-bring-to-rehab/
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  4. What you'll need to bring to drug rehab. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/drug-rehab/what-to-bring-to-drug-rehab-checklist/#gref