7 Rehab Essentials to Prepare for Residential Inpatient Treatment

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Overcoming substance abuse isn’t easy. But seeking help for your problem is a huge, and courageous, first step.

For many, the best way to focus on their recovery is to check into a residential treatment center. While your initial concerns may involve how to get into rehab fast as well as questions about how rehab works, there are also practical considerations to take into account.

One such consideration is what to pack for your stay. While you’re researching how to check into rehab, you may find that your treatment facility provides you with a list of rehab essentials, as well as prohibited items. But if you’re in doubt, it’s always helpful to have an insider’s scoop about what to bring.

Here are seven essentials to pack for your stay in residential inpatient treatment.

1. An Alarm Clock

A key part of rehab is sticking to a schedule, which means early mornings and no sleeping in.

While some treatment centers provide an alarm clock, if not you’ll need to bring a basic one with you. It’s best to get an alarm clock without a radio as some facilities prohibit personal radios of any kind.

2. Comfortable Clothing and Footwear

This might seem obvious, but packing inappropriate clothing or forgetting key items is a common mistake among those going to rehab for the first time.

Most rehab centers have a dress code so keep any restrictions in mind when you come to pack. For example, shorts may need to be a certain length to comply, while low-cut tops and band t-shirts may be prohibited.

Many treatment facilities encourage physical activity as part of your treatment plan, so be sure to bring comfortable, loose clothes to work out in too.

Space in your room may be limited, so try to limit yourself to a week’s worth of clothing, including:

  • Coat or jacket
  • Shoes: comfortable everyday shoes, sneakers for activities like adventure therapy, flip flops for the shower, and slippers
  • Tops: plain t-shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts for sports
  • Pants: everyday pants or jeans, shorts, sweatpants, and loose yoga pants for yoga and exercise therapy
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Bathrobe
  • Bathing suit: your treatment facility may encourage water-based activities or use hydrotherapy as part of your treatment plan. Bringing an appropriate bathing suit (trunks for men and a one-piece for women) will ensure you don’t have to sit these activities out

You should have access to a washing machine in your facility so you’ll be able to wash and wear the same clothes during your stay.

3. Identification and Other Personal Effects

This might seem like another obvious one but you’ll need all of these personal items for a stay in rehab:

  • Form of ID (e.g. passport, driving license)
  • Insurance card
  • Credit or debit card
  • Cash: around $100 in small bills for vending machines, store runs, etc.
  • Paper list of contacts: names, addresses and phone numbers of the people you may want to contact during your stay

Treatment facilities tend to discourage bringing in unnecessary personal items such as jewelry and stuffed animals so try to avoid packing these.

The Comprehensive Rehab Packing Guide

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4. Alcohol-Free Toiletries

Although it may be hard to imagine, severe cravings during detox can lead people to drink perfume and mouthwash containing denatured alcohol. As such, all facilities insist on alcohol-free toiletries in unopened packaging.

While perfume, cologne, and all aerosol sprays are banned, you should bring basic toiletries and grooming accessories, such as:

  • Soap or shower/bath gel
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Solid deodorant
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Tweezers and nail clippers
  • Makeup
  • Sunscreen

Your facility may also prohibit handheld mirrors and compacts with mirrors, so be sure to ask about this before you pack.

5. Entertainment and Stationary

The vast majority of facilities prohibit cell phones, devices with a camera, and e-readers with internet access. But when it comes to other entertainment devices and materials, rehab centers can vary a lot.

Make sure you find out exactly what you’re allowed to bring with you before you pack. After all, you don’t want to waste suitcase space on items that will be confiscated.

Personal TVs and radios are usually banned, but some facilities allow you to bring in your own books and even allow portable CD players with headphones. Others prohibit all music-listening devices and prefer to provide reading material for you. Or, they may limit you to bringing in books about self-help and recovery only.

Many facilities encourage journaling as an aid to your recovery, so bringing a journal or notebook as well as several pens is a good idea. You may also want to pack stamps, writing paper, and envelopes for sending letters to your loved ones.

6. Medications

Although your stay in rehab may involve some kind of medical detox, you will also need to bring all your current prescription medication with you too.

All medication from outside must be in its original packaging, and with the information label intact. And any liquid medications must be new and unopened with the seal intact. You should also bring your original prescription with you so that the staff can see a list of your medications and dosages.

7. Unopened Packs of Cigarettes

Only around 10 percent of treatment facilities have a complete smoking ban. The rest allow smoking in outdoor locations on the premises, although with some restrictions.

If you smoke, you’re likely to smoke more in rehab. As such, you should pack enough unopened packs of cigarettes to last you twice the length of your stay to avoid running out. You’ll also need a few lighters too.

If you prefer loose tobacco, cigars, e-cigarettes, you might not be able to bring these in with you. Check with your specific center to find out what the rules are when it comes to these items.

Rehab Essentials to Pack for Inpatient Treatment

Your first priority will be how to get into rehab in the first place, as well as finding the right treatment facility for you.

But knowing what rehab essentials you need to pack for your chosen center will help you feel prepared. And, making sure to bring the important items and leave contraband products at home will help make the transition period easier.

For more information about our residential treatment center and how we can help you on your journey to recovery, contact our team today.


  1. “Are Cigarettes Allowed At Drug Rehab Centers?” – Rehabcenter.net; Vertava Health