Content reviewed by Khelsea Walker

Deciding to enter treatment for substance use is anything but easy. Not only are you making the challenging commitment to be sober, but you are also choosing to make some major changes to your current lifestyle. Recovery is more than just becoming sober; it is about learning to work through all the underlying causes that perpetuate substance use.

As you are packing up for rehab, there are several things that you may feel compelled to take along with you, such as your phone or video games. As tempting as this is, every treatment facility has different policies regarding what to and not to bring to treatment. Most facilities will provide a packing checklist to make it even easier for patients. Unfortunately, electronics usually make the list of what not to bring.

Essentials for Rehab and Addiction Treatment

Starting with the essentials, there are a variety of things you should have upon your arrival at rehab. Everyone is coming to rehab from a different place in their recovery journey, and some people arrive last minute. No matter how long you’ve had rehab planned, know that your treatment facility will work with you to ensure that you have everything you need while you are there. Luckily, treatment rarely requires patients to bring a strict list of items.

If this is your first time attending rehab, you may have no idea what to bring. Below are some recommended items you may want to pack.

#1 A List of Emergency and/or Necessary Contacts

This may include the addresses and phone numbers of friends, family, mentors and other loved ones you want to be involved in your care. Though you may not have your phone with you during treatment, your rehab facility will need this information in case they need to get in contact with someone during your stay.

#2 Medication

If you are taking prescription medication from a facility other than your treatment center, it is important to continue your medication as prescribed. As you undergo initial evaluations and assessments, your treatment team at your rehab center will work with you to address whether your current medication is valuable or necessary for your recovery. In some cases, individuals may begin rehab without medication and be prescribed medication as a way to assist the treatment process. Regardless, be sure to pack your current medication.

#3 Your Insurance Card and Form of Identification

Pack your driver’s license, passport or another valid form of identification. Similarly, have your insurance information easily available.

#4 A Notebook or Journal

Often, these will be provided to you during treatment. Still, personal notebooks and journals can be nice to use during free time to write letters, doodle or engage in mindfulness journaling. While these activities can be done digitally with one electronic or another, you will receive more benefits from doing them with pen and paper.

#5 Comfortable Clothing

Some facilities have stricter dress codes than others. Be sure to check the requirements and pack comfortable lounge clothing, shoes for everyday wear and weather-appropriate clothes. Bring enough clothes for seven to 10 days. Essentials include:

  • Shirts
  • Shorts and pants
  • Warm layers as needed
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Shoes

#6 Personal Hygiene Products

Again, check your facilities policies for what you are allowed to bring. Expect to bring about 30 days’ worth of items. Consider the following:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Comb
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

Items to Avoid Bringing to Rehab

Treatment facilities often prohibit you from packing certain objects in your suitcase and bag; know that you are subject to search. Though this can be nerve-wracking, know that they do this to ensure the safety and well-being of all of their patients. Know your treatment facilities policies before packing.

Here are some examples of items you may want to avoid bringing to rehab:

  • For obvious reasons, alcohol and/or other drugs
  • Prohibited prescriptions
  • Weapons
  • Beauty or hygiene products that contain alcohol
  • Electronic cigarettes (varies by treatment center)
  • Electronics, such as video games
  • Cleaning supplies

Why Can’t I Bring My Video Games to Rehab?

You may have some hesitations regarding some of the things mentioned on the list of items to avoid bringing to rehab, such as video games. However, there is a valid reason why many treatment centers do not allow video games to be brought to treatment. The main reason is that treatment is intended as an opportunity for self-discovery, self-development and growth. Unfortunately, video games often serve as a distraction from your engagement and participation in your overall treatment experience.

Additionally, video games are often not allowed because they can become unhealthy habits. Rehab is supposed to be a place where you can step away from your normal, and otherwise conditioned, routines and truly embrace who you are and where you are at. Much like the effects of long-term substance use, video games can produce unhealthy triggers and cravings that can interfere with the treatment process.

For example, someone who uses video games constantly to unwind or decompress is teaching themself that playing video games is an acceptable coping mechanism. During therapy, they will learn to identify this as an unhealthy coping mechanism and work to replace this behavior with something more positive.

This is not to say that video games are bad, necessarily; rather that they have their time and place. Unfortunately, one time and place that is not for video games is during rehab. With healthy coping mechanisms in place, you can have a more manageable relationship with video games. To get the most out of rehab, immerse yourself fully in your treatment experience.

New Hope Ranch is a men-only addiction treatment facility that recognizes the additional challenges you may face as you make the decision to receive treatment. Every inpatient drug rehab facility has certain expectations, policies and guidelines unique to that facility. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us at (737) 600-8565.