How to Pack for a Drug Recovery Center: What You Should and Shouldn’t Bring



Entering rehab is an intimidating prospect for many people, and with good reason; this is the moment you will take your first step toward a healthier, addiction-free life. 

And in the midst of everything that goes along with pressing pause on your normal routine and getting ready to start down the road to recovery, one of the chores that often gets overlooked is packing what you need.

All facilities have strict guidelines as to what is and is not allowed, and there are also many items that are allowed at a recovery center while being banned at others. To help you get a leg up on this aspect of the planning process, we put together a thorough inventory of what is and isn’t allowed:

What Most Rehabs Encourage You to Bring


  • Shoes (everyday wear, tennis shoes for physical activities, and shower shoes)
  • Shirts (check the guidelines concerning tank tops/sleeveless shirts)
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • A “dressy” outfit or two for special events
  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Bathing suit (trunks for men, usually a one-piece for women)
  • Pajamas
  • Coat/Jacket
  • Bathrobe
  • Belt
  • Hat (may not be allowed indoors)
  • Slippers

Products for Personal Hygiene and Appearance:

  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving cream 
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste 
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair styling products (pump spray only)
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup

General Items:

  • A list of names, phone numbers, and addresses of those you want to be involved in your treatment 
  • Jewelry that you consider a necessity (otherwise, leave valuable items at home)
  • An alarm clock without a radio
  • Any prescription medication must be in the original pharmacy bottle with an intact information label (liquid medications must be unopened and sealed)
  • A small amount of cash for vending machines, store runs, and incidentals 
  • Checkbook, credit, or debit card
  • Insurance cards and an ID (driver’s license, student/military ID, passport, etc.)
  • A calling card (if required)
  • Notebook or journal
  • Stamps and envelopes (if you want to mail letters)
  • Pictures of loved ones  

Items You Should Not Bring

  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Weapons 
  • Pornography
  • Food or drinks
  • Beauty products/toiletries that contain alcohol
  • E-cigarettes
  • Nail polish, remover, or synthetic nail-related items
  • Video games and DVDs
  • Sporting equipment
  • Revealing clothing
  • Aerosols
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Electronics
  • Games 
  • Candles/incense
  • Clothing containing references to alcohol, drugs, or violence

Items That Vary from Facility to Facility

The final list of items has to do with things that are allowed at some locations but may be prohibited in others. Check with your recovery center to find out more:

  • Cell phones and laptops
  • Cigarettes
  • Over-the-counter medications and vitamins
  • MP3 player or CD player
  • Disposable razor or electric razor
  • Nail clippers
  • Bedding/pillows

Additional Information Can Usually Be Found on the Recovery Center Website

Since all facilities have a few slight variations of what is allowed, it is best to confirm exactly what you can and cannot bring. Most treatment centers have a “what to bring” section on their website, often found under FAQs.