What to Pack When Going to an Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 2.5 million people receive addiction treatment every year.1 Knowing that you will be traveling to inpatient drug rehab for treatment can feel overwhelming and stressful on its own. Then you must wonder about what to bring, which can add even more stress.

Although every rehab will differ in terms of policy, there are certain items that are recommended by most centers to help to make your stay more comfortable, as well as those items which are best left at home.

Get Information

The first thing to do if you’re unsure about what to bring to rehab is to ask them for information. The majority of treatment centers have an information sheet or packet that outlines what they allow and prohibit. If you’ve received this packet and still have questions, contact the center for clarification.


Rehabs usually place strict restrictions on clothing. Your space may also be limited, so it will be important not to over-pack. Because it’s likely you will have access to laundry facilities during your stay, having seven days’ worth of clothing/outfits should be sufficient. These items should include layering options in case of cooler temperatures.

The clothing you pack should be appropriate for the weather, as well as comfortable and easy to wash. Any clothing that requires special care, such as dry cleaning, should be left at home. The most important thing to remember is that rehab is not a place where you need to “dress to impress.” Instead, the goal is to feel as comfortable as possible so that you can focus on your recovery.

That being said, some clothing items to pack are as follows:


You will likely need more than one pair of shoes during your stay. Slippers will help you feel more comfortable before you go to sleep and during your morning routine. For regular daily wear, you’ll need a pair of casual and comfortable footwear. You’ll also want to make sure you pack a pair of athletic shoes for outdoor activities. Finally, it’s a good idea to pack a pair of flip-flops if you are using a shared shower.


Shirts are another requirement, but the kind of shirts that are allowed will be something to consider, as many addiction treatment centers have rules regarding the styles they will permit. For instance, tank tops are typically allowed, but only when a shawl, cardigan, or sleeved shirt is worn on top. As with shoes, you’ll want to make sure you have shirts for every day, as well as for athletic activities and special occasions.

Pants, Shorts, or Skirts

Casual, dressy, and athletic pants and shorts are a good idea to pack, as are skirts if weather permits. However, it’s important to check with your rehab center for any restrictions before you start packing, as shorts and skirts may need to be of a particular length. You should ensure that you feel comfortable in whatever bottoms you bring with you.

Other Clothing Items

If the facility you’re going to has a pool, it’s a good idea to pack a bathing suit. For women, a one-piece is typically allowed, and a pair of trunks for men is the appropriate item. You’ll also want to pack a bathrobe, comfortable pajamas, a jacket, a hat, socks, and, of course, undergarments. Because some clothing may be a trigger that can impede your recovery efforts, as well as the efforts of others, it’s important not to bring any clothing that represents or implies drug abuse.


Some facilities may provide basic toiletries for visitors. However, the general rule is to bring 30 days’ worth of toiletries with you. There are a few restrictions for toiletries that you need to be aware of before you pack.


The majority of, if not all, alcohol rehab centers will require any and all toiletries you bring to be 100% alcohol-free. For instance, that rules out perfumes, as many as made with a trace amount of alcohol. The same is true for antiseptic mouthwash. Other centers may allow toiletries that contain alcohol, as long as it isn’t listed as one of the first three ingredients.

Razors and Aerosols

Each rehab will differ in terms of whether or not they allow razors and aerosols like hairspray and deodorant. Some rehabs will allow razors and nail clippers but require them to be checked out before bathing and grooming and returned immediately after. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check your information sheet or packet for any restrictions or call the center before you pack or purchase these items.

Common Toiletry Items

There are some toiletry items which are common and permitted in rehab centers, including:

  • Makeup
  • Brush and/or comb
  • Shaving cream
  • Hair gel and pump-only hairspray
  • Stick deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Sunscreen
  • Lotion

Personal Items for Downtime

While it is true that you will be very busy participating in activities to assist in your recovery, you will have some downtime, so it’s important you pack some items to help you relax after an emotionally or physically grueling day. Some of these items may be restricted, so, again, it’s important to check with your drug treatment center to make sure what’s allowed before you purchase and/or pack anything.

Common Hobby Items

If you are engaged in a hobby like knitting or crocheting, these can be ideal for downtime activity. The same is true of a camera; you may be able to enjoy some nature walks while at the center and may wish to capture the scenery around you. A sketchbook and pencils can also help get your creative juices flowing if this is an interest of yours.

If you’re the type who likes to curl up with a good book, a tablet for reading is a great idea, not to mention it saves space if you are a fast reader who would read more than one book during the course of your stay at an inpatient rehab. Remember to ask, however, which electronic items are allowed before you pack.

Something to Write In

Because expressing your thoughts and feelings is so important in rehab, bringing a notebook or journal with you is a good idea. It can be very cathartic to express your thoughts and feelings via the written word—and, who knows? You may discover your inner author along the way.

Music or Other Audio

You may be permitted to bring an MP3 or CD player with you so that you can listen to music during your stay. You may also be able to load a few audiobooks, depending on the subject matter. You may also be able to have motivational audio if the rehab center permits it. Items which may not be allowed because they may distract you from recovery include:

  • E-cigarettes
  • Electronics, including DVDs, cell phones, and video games
  • Candles
  • Any sharp objects or weapons
  • Alcohol-containing cleaning supplies or cosmetics
  • Food and drinks from home
  • Any medication that was opened prior to your arrival

woman inserting envelope in mailboxTobacco products may be allowed in some facilities following your screening. If there’s room, you may also be able to bring your own pillow and bedding so you can feel more at home during your stay. Some electronics, such as laptops or cell phones, may be permitted, but only during certain periods of time. It’s not a good idea to bring anything that may trigger stress or unpleasant memories, such as certain music or work items.

Other Important Things to Bring

You’ll want to ensure that you bring your identification with you. This includes any health insurance cards, your passport, and your driver’s license. You’ll also want to ensure you have contact information for those friends or family members who you want to be involved in your recovery. If you are taking prescription medications, check with your rehab about the rules for bringing these.

happy woman enjoy on the beachIt’s a good idea to bring a bit of cash with you as well; the alcohol treatment center will likely have vending machines or a place where snacks and other items can be purchased. Bringing some paper, envelopes, and stamps may also be a good idea if you plan to write to loved ones during your stay. Headphones are always a good idea, as this ensures you can enjoy the audio you bring with you without disturbing others. Photographs of loved ones can also be comforting.

The most important thing that will accompany you to rehab will be your attitude. Strive to be as positive as possible as you keep an open mind, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the experience you have.

Individualized, Holistic Treatment

At BlueCrest Recovery Center, our team of specialists believes that, in order to achieve full recovery, healing must occur at the physical, mental, and spiritual levels. If you’re ready to embark on your recovery journey, BlueCrest can provide more information about individualized treatment options; call (973) 453-5384 to learn more.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

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