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How to Pack for Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is a long-term residential option for addiction and alcoholism treatment. Treatment generally takes place on a 30-, 60-, or 90-day basis, where programming takes place during the day and clients stay in the rehab facility overnight. Some inpatient rehabs include all programming at the residential location while others transfer clients to day programming and bring them back home in the afternoons. Since you’ll stay overnight at the rehabilitation center for at least a month, you’ll need to bring a bag with you. Each treatment facility differs in the amenities they provide so it’s best to check with the center before packing your bag. There are still some basic items that you should bring with you and there are a few things you should leave at home.

What Happens in Inpatient Rehab?

Did you research what your inpatient rehab offers in terms of treatment? Are you even familiar with what inpatient rehab entails? It may help to familiarize yourself with the types of programming offered at many rehabilitation centers to get a better understanding of what you will soon attend. Inpatient rehab facilities are designed to remove you from your current environment. Wherever you are currently living is most likely not conducive to your sobriety. You probably drank or used in your apartment, condo, or house. You might even live with friends or roommates who you partied with. If you stay in the same environment while trying to get sober, especially one filled with alcohol and drugs, you are less likely to stay sober for any significant length of time. Attending inpatient treatment removes you from your present environment and provides space from the things that might encourage you to start drinking or using again. During your time at the rehabilitation center, you will meet with an individual therapist a certain number of times per week. Group therapy is an integral part of the inpatient rehabilitation process. Working through the process with peers who share a common goal helps you learn to interact with others in sobriety. Many treatment centers also incorporate 12-step recovery into their approach. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are the two largest fellowships. They are most likely the two types of meetings that any facility utilizing 12-step recovery will take their clients to. AA and NA are a beneficial aspect of inpatient because they are available for free once you leave your treatment facility.

What to Pack for Inpatient Rehab

Now that you know more about treatment, what do you pack for inpatient rehab? Again, it is important to check with the facility to see if there are any specific requirements on what to bring. Many treatment centers provide packing lists either in the information you receive about their facility or on their website. This list provides a few general ideas about what you will need for your time in treatment.

1. A week’s worth of clothes.

A week’s worth of clothes is a perfect amount to bring, especially if you intend to pack light. Remember: you’re attending treatment for yourself and to get sober, not to impress anyone or find a boyfriend or girlfriend. You don’t need to go to treatment looking like you’re ready to hit the streets of Los Angeles. Bring comfortable clothing. Sweats and house slippers are great things to pack, especially for relaxing at the end of the night. Pack an outfit or two for attending meetings or any other outside event your treatment center may bring you to.

2. A journal.

A journal is one of the most important things to bring with you to treatment. You may not enjoy writing when you first enter the facility. But documenting your process will show you how far you’ve come when you finish your rehabilitation program. Write down whatever comes to mind. If you are angry or sad or overjoyed, write it down. Include everything that runs through your head. Don’t filter yourself in your journal. After honestly participating in individual and group therapy and possibly even working the 12 steps with a sponsor, your perspective on life will change drastically. Having written documentation will inspire you when you look back on it after leaving your program.

3. Pictures of loved ones.

Some rehab facilities take your phone away during the early phases of their programming. If this is the case, having hard copy pictures of your loved ones or pets can help you. These pictures can help remind you of why you came to rehab in the first place. When things get difficult, look through the pictures you bring and think about how your life will change and how much different you will be when you return to them.

4. A book (or two).

Although your facility provides intensive and engaging programming during the day, there will also be downtime. After all, you’re living in the facility. Take the time to read a book you’ve always wanted to read. Maybe there is a novel you read as a teenager that you want to revisit or a book you’ve had on your shelf that you always neglected to read. Pick a book or two to bring with you to help pass some of the downtime you will experience during your time in inpatient.

What Not to Bring to Inpatient Rehab

You now have an idea of what to bring with you to inpatient rehab but what are some things you can’t bring? Every treatment center will have a list of banned items not allowed into their facility. Be sure to check this before packing to make sure you don’t accidentally bring something you can’t have with you.

1. Drugs or alcohol.

Though this may seem obvious, some people try to sneak drugs into their treatment facility. This idea will only backfire because staff will catch you and kick you out of the program. You made the decision to attend treatment; why would you slide back when there is an opportunity for a new chance at freedom—why risk throwing it all away for one last high within the walls of a rehabilitation center?

2. Cash (unless the facility specifies otherwise).

Bringing large amounts cash with you is not the smartest idea when attending inpatient rehab. The treatment center you plan to attend likely covers most everything you will need, such as food and possibly toiletries, so there is little need for cash. You might need cash for cigarettes, coffee, or energy drinks but there is no need to carry around extra money. Bring only what you need and leave the rest with a trustworthy friend or family member who can provide more when you need it.

3. Valuables

Other than your phone and possibly some cash, leave your valuables at home. This includes jewelry, expensive articles of clothing, or anything else you would regret losing. Again, you’re not in rehab to impress anyone, you’re there to get sober. There is no need to bring flashy things to rehab. Focus on adjusting your insides and the outsides will follow. Bringing valuable items to treatment has little value other than to show that you can afford them. Leave expensive things at home and come to rehab focused on yourself in order to achieve the best results from inpatient rehab.

4. An attitude of unwillingness.

If you aren’t willing to do the work to stay sober, you will not achieve long-term recovery. Willingness is the key to staying sober. Try to do everything your treatment center asks of you; those who stay in the mindset of helping others are the ones who do not waver in their recovery. Situations are what you make of them. If you go into inpatient treatment saying it will be a bad time, you’re going to have a bad time. If you go in with the understanding that you can get and stay sober, you are more likely to be successful. Stay willing throughout your entire time in inpatient rehab for the best chance to remain in recovery.