What should you bring — and what you shouldn’t bring — to rehab?

Many patients have questions regarding what they should and should not bring with them from home to an addiction treatment center. Fortunately for those wondering, most addiction treatment centers have a strict policy of things that can and cannot be brought. They should provide you with a list of suggested items to be brought, as well as a strict code of items that are restricted.

In general, addiction treatment centers allow inpatients to bring just what is necessary. Too many extra items can lead to distraction from the recovery process, which brings the risk of a future relapse. However, policies on what can and cannot be brought to rehab vary by addiction treatment center.

Once you arrive at the addiction treatment center, there will be a place to drop off your bags for someone on staff to inspect your possessions as you begin the admission process. They will be sure that no prohibited items are brought into the center. Many treatment centers will also keep a catalog of possessions that you brought with you, so that you do not forget and leave anything behind when you leave.

What rehab centers suggest you bring:

  • A list of people you want to have involved with your treatment (parents, spouse, significant other, trusted friend, sponsors, etc.)
  • Your insurance card and a form of identification (your driver’s license, a passport, etc.)
  • A journal or a notebook
  • Your checkbook, credit card or debit card, in order to pay for medications provided during treatment

Other items you are allowed to bring:

  • Payments for prescribed medication (this is only for adult patients)
  • Stamps and envelopes (if you are planning to write and send letters)
  • Pictures of your loved ones that you may keep in your wallet or your room (these will give you much more motivation to recover, for the sake of those you love)
  • A week’s worth of casual clothing, which might include a sweater, jacket and pajamas
  • Your prescription medication. No samples. These must be contained in the original pharmacy bottle that they came in, showing the product information. Liquid medications have to be new and sealed
  • You are allowed to bring books with you to rehab. However, many recovery centers will already provide you with reading material. If you bring your own books, they should be of self-help, spiritual or other nature that facilitates recovery. Paperbacks are recommended, as they are much lighter than hardcovers.
  • Vitamins
  • Supplies for cleaning laundry
  • Alarm clock (some centers will provide these)
  • Cash for vending machines, between $50 to $100 in smaller bills (this is only for adult patients)
  • A long-distance phone card
  • Razor or electric razor (this is only for adult patients)
  • Shaving cream


  • Shirts: if you choose to bring tank tops, you should also take a cardigan in order to be compliant with your center’s dress code
  • Pants: you can bring jeans as well as pajamas for comfort
  • Shorts: they will have to be at a certain length in order to comply with your center’s dress code
  • You should also bring one or two “dressy” outfits for a family night or other special occasions
  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Bathing suits: women are generally required to wear a one-piece suit; men can wear trunks
  • A coat or jacket
  • Bathrobe
  • Belt
  • A hat (however, your center might not allow hats to be worn inside)
  • Slippers (some centers might not allow for flip flops)

The following over-the-counter pharmaceutical items (these must be new and unopened):

  • Ibuprofen
  • Imodium
  • Maalox
  • Melatonin
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Mints
  • Nicotine patches (if needed)

Personal hygiene

  • All centers will require that your personal hygiene possessions be alcohol-free, or as one of the first three listed ingredients. Aerosols are also forbidden.
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • hair styling products (pump hair spray only)
  • comb/brush
  • feminine hygiene products
  • shaving cream
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup

What you should not bring:

Some of these items are prohibited in order to assure the safety of yourself, the other inpatients and professionals at the treatment center.  Many items are not permitted in order to avoid distractions (such as with video games and playing cards) that will hinder the progress of your addiction treatment — though it is likely that your center will have these sort of items available to you already. These items include:

  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Tobacco products (which includes chewing tobacco, cigars, pipes and e-cigarettes)
  • Sample medications
  • Pornography
  • Herbal products
  • Weapons (of any nature, which includes knives, scissors, or any sharp object)
  • Nail polish, polish remover, or other synthetic nail-related products
  • Musical instruments (but some centers allow young patients to bring them)
  • Supplemental vitamins
  • Short shorts, halter tops, and other revealing clothing, especially those that reveal your midriff.
  • Shirts with inappropriate messages
  • Flip flops
  • Pillows, blankets and comforters
  • Cleaning supplies (such as bleach and ammonia)
  • A fan
  • Electronics (television, video game console, etc.)
  • Games and playing cards
  • Food or drink
  • Sports equipment
  • Candy
  • Incense
  • Unnecessary clothing, jewelry and makeup (this does not include necessary pieces of jewelry, such as your wedding ring)
  • Excessive money
  • Mouthwash (if it contains alcohol)
  • Food or drink of any sort
  • Radio (though sometimes adult patients are allowed one)

Some rehab centers allow these items, while others don’t:

  • Cell phone and laptop: if your center allows you to have a cell phone and/or laptop, it will most likely only be at specific Do not forget the power cords
  • Cigarettes: interestingly enough, some centers will allow patients to bring cigarettes if they smoke, though they will set a limit on the number you can smoke per day
  • Camera: some rehab centers will allow for cameras, so long as they are not connected to the internet
  • Disposable razors or electric razors: razors can be dangerous and possibly used as a weapon, which is why some centers prohibit them, though others do not
  • MP3 or CD player: if the device doesn’t have internet access, it might be allowed


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