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  • When someone lives with a substance use disorder, it takes courage to attend treatment. Addiction treatment centers offer long-term rehab programs that are valuable to anyone with alcohol or drug addiction. 

    However, rehab may seem intimidating if you don’t know how to prepare. When you’re ready to take your first step into treatment, the last thing you should be worried about is what to pack. For specific rules on what is allowed, contact your treatment center. 

    How To Pack For Rehab

    Rehab is an inpatient/residential treatment program where you live on campus, usually for 30 days or more. Since you’ll likely live at the treatment center, you’ll need to bring clothing and other essential items. 

    Space may be limited and the number of bags or items allowed per person may vary depending on the facility. 

    Personal Items

    You’ll need some essential items for the admissions process and during your stay at a recovery center. 

    Most treatment centers recommend you bring the following items:

    • identification (driver’s license or state ID)
    • health insurance cards
    • prescription cards
    • prescription medications (in original packaging)
    • journal/notebook
    • calling cards
    • list of phone numbers (supportive family members, sponsor)
    • pictures of loved ones
    • envelopes/stamps
    • emergency contact information


    Most treatment centers only allow a certain number of outfits or articles of clothing per person. Others may have a specific dress code. 

    In general, expect to bring a week’s worth of clothing, including sleepwear and outerwear. You will likely be allowed to use a washer and dryer on site, usually free of charge with access to detergent. 

    The following is a list of recommended clothing items:

    • t-shirts
    • long-sleeve shirts
    • comfortable pants
    • shorts
    • sweatshirt 
    • jacket
    • tank top covered w/ a cardigan or sweater
    • sneakers
    • shower shoes (or flip-flops)
    • socks and undergarments
    • sleepwear
    • workout clothes 
    • bathrobe
    • bathing suit (if there is access to pool)

    Your clothing should be comfortable, modest, and weather appropriate for outdoor activities. It’s recommended you bring clothes you can layer to ensure you’re always comfortable. 

    You should not bring any clothing that will distract you or your peers from treatment. This includes clothing that contains drug or alcohol references and other offensive material. 


    Most drug rehab centers provide basic hygiene necessities, including soap, a toothbrush, and deodorant. However, you’re welcome to bring your own as long as the containers are unopened and alcohol-free. 

    Personal hygiene products you may consider packing include:

    • deodorant
    • shampoo/conditioner
    • toothbrush/toothpaste
    • hairbrush 
    • feminine hygiene products
    • lotion
    • sunscreen

    Reading Materials

    Some treatment centers allow you to bring literature to read during downtime. Literature may be required to be recovery or spiritually based. Most treatment centers have recovery literature available on campus, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous books. 


    You may consider bringing cash or a debit card for use at vending machines. A small amount of jewelry may also be allowed, such as a watch or wedding ring. Keep in mind that the treatment facility cannot replace any valuables that are lost or stolen. 

    Prohibited Items

    Rehab is about healing the mind and body and focusing on treatment goals. Certain items can interfere with the recovery process and must be prohibited. Prohibited items are for the safety of you and your peers, especially during detox. 

    Treatment facility rules vary but the following items are usually not allowed:

    • aerosol products (hairspray)
    • products containing alcohol (perfume or mouthwash)
    • nailpolish/nailpolish remover
    • revealing clothing
    • narcotic prescriptions 
    • weapons
    • opened toiletries
    • opened over-the-counter medications
    • video games
    • candles
    • drug paraphernalia
    • cameras
    • food or drink


    If your rehab facility allows cigarette smoking, you’ll be able to bring unopened packs of cigarettes. While some treatment centers have banned smoking, others still allow smoking outdoors during designated times. 

    Electronic Devices

    Although it is uncommon, some treatment centers allow cell phone or laptop use during designated times. 

    However, inpatient rehab is designed to remove you from the environments you associate with drug or alcohol use. Cell phones and laptops are usually prohibited during inpatient treatment for important reasons. 

    Your recovery is the priority and access to cell phones can interfere with the healing process. If electronic devices are prohibited, you’ll likely have access to a phone to call people in your support system. 

    What If I Forget Something?

    It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the early stages of recovery. Being away from home can also be challenging and treatment centers work hard to make you feel welcome, safe, and comfortable. 

    If you arrive at treatment and are missing an item that you need or want and it’s allowed, a family member may be able to deliver it. If you don’t have someone to help you, most facilities can provide you with basic necessities. 

    To learn more about our residential treatment programs, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today. 

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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