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How to Prepare for Drug Rehab

Taking the step to enter an inpatient treatment program can be a major decision in overcoming addiction and starting a new life. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to anticipate during inpatient rehab. However, preparing yourself beforehand can help you feel more confident and ready to embark on your journey to recovery.

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What You Need to Know Before Rehab

Entering an inpatient treatment program is a significant step toward overcoming addiction and beginning a new life.

However, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what to expect during inpatient rehab is natural. Preparing beforehand will help you feel more confident and ready to begin your recovery journey.

From appropriate research to tying up loose ends just before admission, we’ve made a list of things most people should consider before entering an inpatient addiction treatment program.

1. Start By Doing Your Research

You should choose an addiction treatment center tailored to your specific needs and goals. Research different rehab programs and gather information about the type of treatment they offer, the staff’s qualifications, and the length of the program.

Other factors to consider when researching inpatient rehab centers include:

  • Location
  • Cost
  • Accreditation
  • Specialization in treating certain types of substance use disorders or catering to particular groups (i.e., women-only, LGBTQ+, faith-based, etc.)
  • Availability of aftercare services
  • The success rate of the programs
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2. Ask a Healthcare Professional For a Referral

Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about your alcohol or drug abuse concerns—especially if this is your first time seeking addiction treatment.

For many people, outpatient addiction treatment is suitable for recovery, and you may not even need to check into a residential rehab program. Your doctor can provide assessments and additional details to help you decide which treatment options would be best for you.

Your healthcare provider can also help you understand any potential risks or benefits of different rehab options and support you during treatment.

3. Understand What Inpatient Rehabilitation Involves

It’s essential to understand what rehabilitation involves before starting treatment. Try to learn about the types of therapies and treatment methods used, the detox programs, and what you can expect during your stay.

Most inpatient programs last 30 to 90 days, depending on your treatment plan. You may have limited phone access or contact with friends and family members (especially during your early days of treatment), so it helps you prepare yourself beforehand.

4. Check Your Insurance Coverage

You should check your health insurance coverage once you’ve chosen a rehab and confirmed its payment options.

You may want to call your insurance provider to ask about the types of treatment it covers, any exclusions or limits on coverage, and any requirements you need to meet before entering rehab.

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5. Tell Your Loved Ones to Build Support

Consider talking to your loved ones about your addiction and treatment plans, and ask them to be a part of your support network during your recovery.

Having the support of loved ones can be a valuable source of strength and motivation during treatment.

6. Arrange Child Care and Pet Care As Needed

If you have children or pets, ensure you make arrangements for their care before entering rehab. This may include asking a trusted friend or family member to care for them or hiring a professional care provider.

It is also helpful to talk to your children about your absence to help alleviate any concerns or fears they may have.

7. Notify Your Employer

Make sure to inform your employer about your plans and any necessary time off you will need for treatment.

Discuss your plan for handling your work responsibilities during rehab and your return to work plan. Also, be honest and transparent about your addiction and treatment plans.

Sometimes, your employer may grant a certain number of weeks of medical leave. The American Family and Medical Leave Act may provide job protection during treatment.

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8. Address Any Outstanding Legal Obligations

Before entering rehab, address any legal obligations, such as outstanding warrants or pending court cases.

It may also be helpful to consult with an attorney or legal aid organization to determine what steps you should take before entering rehab.

9. Manage Your Finances

Managing your financial obligations may include paying any outstanding bills, canceling unnecessary subscriptions or memberships, and making arrangements for someone to manage your finances in your absence.

You may also consider setting up recurring payments from a debit or credit card so that none of your bills lapse.

Consider discussing your financial plans with a trusted friend or family member who can help you manage your finances during rehab.

10. Get Mentally Prepared

Entering rehab can be a challenging and emotional experience, so you will want to psychologically prepare yourself before starting treatment.

You can talk to a therapist or trusted loved one about your feelings and concerns, develop a positive attitude, and set realistic goals for your recovery.

Finding ways to manage stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques or exercise may also prove helpful.

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11. Pack the Essentials

Pack a bag with the necessary items during your stay at the center. Every center is different, so check beforehand for what you’ll need to bring and what is provided.

Essentials for your stay may include:

  • Clothing (confirm the rehab’s dress code)
  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items
  • Any documents the rehab requires for your admission
  • Any prescription medications you are currently taking
  • Extra cash
  • Phone numbers or other contact information for any loved ones you may want to contact while in rehab (some addiction centers do not allow cell phones)
  • Additional personal items, such as pictures of loved ones

Check with the rehab center for any specific packing guidelines, as some items could present a problem for you or other patients.

For instance, mouthwash contains a certain percentage of alcohol and may tempt someone who is in treatment for alcohol abuse.

Also, consider bringing items that can help you stay comfortable and occupied during your stay, such as books, puzzles, or music.

Packing light is also a good idea, as space may be limited in your room.

12. Make a Plan for Aftercare

Consider what you will do after you complete the rehab program to help you stay on track and maintain your progress.

Solid aftercare plans include:

  • Attending support groups
  • Seeking ongoing therapy to develop healthy coping mechanisms to prevent relapse
  • Arranging for follow-up appointments with your healthcare team

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As you prepare for rehab, identify your needs and plan for what you can expect before you begin treatment. Above all else, look forward to your new beginning.

With a positive outlook and support from your friends and family, rehab can be a life-changing experience you will remember fondly.

To find a treatment facility near you, contact SAMHSA’s Treatment Facility Locator or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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FAQs About Preparing for Drug Rehab

What should I wear to rehab?

Casual, comfortable clothing appropriate for the climate and location of the facility is ideal for rehab. Clothes should also comply with the facility’s dress code.

You can pack clothing items such as:

  • T-shirts
  • Jeans or sweatpants
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Sneakers or other comfortable shoes
  • A jacket or sweater for cooler weather
  • Undergarments
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing suit/trunks
  • Slippers

Do I bring anything with me to rehab?

It’s generally a good idea to bring a few personal items to rehab to help you feel comfortable and at home during your stay.

These can include:

  • Comfortable clothing appropriate for the facility’s climate and location.
  • Essential toiletries (i.e., toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hair products, and makeup)
  • Prescription medications—but be sure to inform the staff about your medication regimen
  • Basic jewelry such as wedding rings or watches
  • Some extra cash
  • Other personal items like self-help books, a journal, important phone numbers, or pictures of loved ones

Check with the rehab center for specific guidelines on what to bring and what to leave at home. Some items may not be allowed, such as cell phones or products containing alcohol.

What's the shortest time you can stay at rehab?

The shortest time you can stay at rehab is usually around a month. However, this is just an average. Your stay will depend on how long it takes you to reach your goals and how quickly you can integrate the changes into your life.

However, some patients suffering from substance use disorder who are unable or unwilling to remain in a long-term treatment program may undergo supervised detox over 1–2 weeks.

Many factors can affect how long alcohol or drug rehab lasts for each individual:

  • How long you have been abusing drugs or alcohol
  • How severe your addiction has been
  • Whether any withdrawal symptoms are present and require medical intervention
  • Any current or previous mental health issues
  • Your current level of functioning (e.g., Are you able to hold down a job?)
  • Your motivation (i.e., Are you really ready to quit?)
  • Your medical history

What activities do you do in rehab?

Activities in rehab can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the type of treatment program.

Some common rehab activities may include:

  • Individual therapy: One-on-one therapy sessions with a therapist or counselor to address personal issues and develop coping skills.
  • Group therapy: Therapy sessions with a group of people who are also in addiction recovery, led by a therapist or counselor, to discuss common issues and act as a support system throughout the recovery process.
  • Family therapy: Therapy sessions that include one or more family members can address concerns about the patient’s alcohol or drug addiction in a safe environment.
  • Educational classes: Classes on addiction, recovery, and healthy living can help individuals understand their addiction and develop the skills needed to maintain sobriety.
  • Physical activities: Addiction treatment programs often offer physical activities such as exercise classes, yoga, or sports to help individuals improve their physical health and well-being.
  • Recreational activities: Drug and alcohol rehab facilities may also offer recreational activities such as art therapy, music therapy, games, or outdoor activities to help individuals relax and have fun in a sober environment.

Rehab facilities may also offer nutrition programs, job training, or spiritual support, depending on the individual’s needs.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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  3. Finding the Right Rehab Program for Substance Abuse. University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.).
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (2016, November). Early Intervention, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet].
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery. SAMHSA’s Recovery Support Initiative.
  6. Types of Treatment. SAMHSA. (2023, April 24).
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023a, September 25). Treatment and Recovery. National Institutes of Health.
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023b, September 25). Treatment and Recovery. National Institutes of Health.

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