What can I take into rehab?

I may be going away for a month. What might I be allowed to take with me? A book, my knitting, anything at all. I’m completely clueless about this and won’t be speaking with anyone who knows. Any ideas?


I imagine the specifics would vary with the facility and the situation.

You can usually have books and magazines mainly and buy plenty of them. Maybe some electronics depending on the facility but I doubt it. Cell phones usually aren’t allowed for some very legitimate concerns. You need to ask about those before you go. Anything that is a safety issue for you or other people is right out so that might include knitting needles but I don’t know. If you smoke, they will probably have places for it but you might want to stock up on lots of packs cigarettes before you get there. They usually have a safe for your money and other personal belongings that the nurses can retrieve for you.

Good luck. I never thought rehab was that bad and even enjoyed it in a way but it is a completely different world and you get to meet some um, interesting people which is part of the (scary) educational experience. Give it your best shot and make the best of it.

Also: Very, very important. Get a calling card because you can call people during different times but the phones tend to only accept a couple of payment types and friends and family members are not allowed to call in.

I have no experience and so cannot answer your questions, but I stopped by to wish you luck!

Many mental health facilites no longer allow smoking, but will happily give you the patch or gum. Obviously, this will vary.

Good luck, cher3.

The one my sister was in did not allow books or magazines - unless they were approved by staff. Bring personal hygiene stuff - especially things that will make you feel good (like if you have a soap or body wash you are really fond of. Your pillow. Comfort items are good (a teddy bear). A journal. Stationary to write friends. Stuff that is dangerous was taken away - I’m not sure that would include knitting needles. There was no sugar. No sugar pop, no sugar for your coffee, no chocolate…(apparently sugar is bad if you are coming off an opiate addiction?)

Good luck. They keep you pretty busy but they also want you to be bored enough that you have to face yourself.

I have never seen that but I am sure it is true for some places. They don’t usually want people to be going through double withdrawal so detox and rehab wards are about the only places you can smoke in an hospital and they have special places built for it but only at certain times. I don’t usually smoke but I did in rehab because that was the major recreational activity.

Good luck cher3. It won’t be bad at all although do not screw with the nurses. They control the show. This stuff happens to people of all types.

I’m just going on my experience as an EMT for a private ambo company (covered in another thread). A lot of what we did was inter-facility transfers, and patients always wanted to stop in the hospital parking lot for a smoke. None of the hospitals around here allow smoking on the grounds at all*, so we weren’t able to let them. There were one or two free-standing facilites that allowed it, probably for the reasons you stated, but the places that don’t allow smoking will dispense the patch or gum.
The VA hospital in Baltimore allows its psych patients to smoke, but they have a little 5th-floor courtyard so they’re outside.

  • It was always funny to pull up to various hospitals and see a little cluster of people in scrubs, smoking, on the curb just across the street. Hey, they weren’t on the hospital grounds! :smiley:
    And good luck, cher3.

My experiences are a little different. Personal items like pillows and stuffed animals present a problem because they are an easy way for people to smuggle stuff in and believe me, they do. Addicts could run the world with their ingenuity if they ever turned their mind that way. The staff has seen everything and has every reason to be paranoid. However, you can wander around, talk to people, watch TV and movies when you aren’t seeing your doctors or going to classes. They always have drink machines and food available too. It isn’t prison but the purpose is to be in a controlled environment for some time while you get your issues worked out.

What kind of rehab? I ask not only because I’d like some more info, but because I’m wondering if I can get a rent check off my alchy tenant. He’s good for it but if he can’t get calls…

I got out of rehab about a month ago, and I will agree that some of this will vary by institutions. The one I was at did not allow outside reading material. The only things you were allowed to read were recovery oriented. You could read the AA big book, or the Narcotics Anonymous book, or even the Gambler’s anonymous book (the GA book you had to provide yourself, as we only had the AA and NA books.) No gambling materials of any kind. That includes dice, playing cards and the like. You could not bring headphones, Ipods, or laptop computers. The reason for this is that you will be there for recovery only. Anything that will isolate you from the groups is generally not allowed. Also, what may be innocent for you may be a trigger for someone else. For example, the magazine you may bring may have an advertisement for vodka, and that may produce a craving for someone.

Knitting needles will likely not be allowed. Don’t get the idea that you won’t be able to have fun, but you will learn to work with other people. Hell, watching TV becomes a group activity because you will learn to communicate to watch what you want to watch and be tolerant of what others want to watch. You may do puzzles, and there will be time to play board and table games with other people. That is one of the things that many people in active addiction never learn to do is play well with others. There will be a time set aside to learn to play.

Don’t bring anything with alcohol in it. If you are on medication, check that in when you arrive, and your medication will be given to you as you need it. Don’t bring razors. I am guessing you are a female. You can’t shave your legs usually because someone will have to watch you, and usually staff won’t watch a female with no pants on shaving.

My suggestion, don’t bring a watch. If you do, you will spend all your time calculating when the next outdoor break is, or when dinner is instead of paying attention in the group. You will go to a lot of groups. Your day will be structured pretty much from waking until bedtime. The staff will let you know when it is time to wake up, time to go to sleep, and when the next group is.

There will be some fun times and you will meet some great people. There will be some sad times, and there will even be anger. Learn to live with your emotions and you will be successful.

SSG Schwartz

Good luck to you too SSG Schwartz. There are a whole bunch of us here that know what it is like. Keep focus at all times.

Thanks, and the same to you Shagnasty.

SSG Schwartz

I work in a rehab (working the overnight shift now as I type), so perhaps I can give some insight.

Most facilities have a list of allowed/not-allowed items. This widely varies by facility. It basically depends on the level of care being given, and if it is a locked facility. My advice is to make sure you have definate answers on the following:

Smoking policy
Medications allowed (some facilities do not allow certain anti-anxiety meds for example)
Phone policy
General treatment outline
As each facility has it’s differences in what it allows, I will make some suggestions on comfort items. This is based on what my facility allows, keep in mind yours may be different:

Pictures of loved ones
Crafty-type stuff
Comfy, non-revealing clothes
Personal care items that do not contain alcohol
All important phone numbers on PAPER, most places ban cell phones
Cheap pair of flip-flops for late night bathroom trips

Good luck and let us know how everything turns out. As someone who is in recovery myself, I can relate that the start of this process is not fun or easy. But you have decided to make a change. Sometimes we just need a little help in the beginning.

Listen to your nurses/counselors/staff/doctors. Work the program. Love yourself. Take care of yourself afterwards too. Meetings are helpful (I go to AA several times weekly). Most importantly, many people think of going to rehab as a failure. I don’t. It is a beginning. You have a chance at a new life, and I can’t think of anything more wonderful than that!

It works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it!

I got out of rehab about two months ago. As you might have concluded by now, the exact answer to your question will largely depend on what your facility allows. That being the case, the most important piece of advice I could offer is check with them, either by telephone or see if their webiste has a FAQ or somesuch with a list of what you can and cannot bring. Based on my experiences though, this is my advice:

If you smoke, even casually, take plenty (think at least a pack a day, maybe more if you’re a generous sort, as there will be plenty of bums). They’ll probably confiscate your lighter though.

If it’s allowed, take a pillow (or two). What I was given to rest my head on was the suggestion of a pillow.

Take small bills for drink and snack machines. (I did not. I was admitted on a Saturday and by the time I got through admissions and back to the unit, the accounting office was closed, so there was nowhere to get change. Most drink machines - this hospital’s included - don’t take twenties, and the change machine only broke ones and fives. I was diet-coke-less for 24 hours. This was probably worse than having no booze and only ten cigarrettes).

As for comsetics, you’d be surprised what has alcohol in it (like hair conditioner). These items will probably be confiscated.

I too think flip flops would be a good idea for late night runs to the can, but also have some sort of slip-on you can wear socks with during the day. *The facility I was in confiscated shoelaces (and belts - including off of robes), so athletic shoes were secured with zip ties - just save the trouble and wear sandals.

I can identify with alot of what Shagnasty and SSG Schwartz have to say about the general experience. I watched a lot of tv (the NBA Finals, Wrasslin’ - they wouldn’t let us watch Jerry Springer, oddly), played spades with a bunch of old black guys, worked on a puzzle that was missing ten or twenty key pieces, shot some hoops, played some ping pong, smoked a lot of cigarrettes, went to AA and NA meetings, went to a lot of group therapy and got sober. I ate like a horse, too.

It is a very real experience.

How was the food?

I think of hospitals and other institutions as having pretty awful food, considering they’re supposed to be making you healthy.

For people in rehab who are giving up their favorite thing in the whole wide world, I’d think you’d want to provide *something *to remind them that life is worth living.

What did they provide for you?

The hospital where I stayed is not part of a larger “general” hospital. It is exclusively an alcohol and drug (I am not sure about other addicitons, like gambling, mentioned upthread) recovery and mental health facility. The food was quite good. Being in Atlanta, the food had a southern influence with all the unhealthiness that implies - biscuits, food fried in lard, everything was buttered, etc. There were diabetic meals for those who needed them, though. Meals were served in a cafateria, which we were escorted to at meal times and which contained the aforementioned drink and snack machines. On the unit, there were graham crackers and peanut butter, apple and orange juices, and water. You were also allowed to bring back leftovers from the cafateria and several to-go meals were brough back for any patients that were not allowed off of the unit. There were generaly more meals brought back than people who wanted them.

I do disargee with one representaion upthread. Rehab is a bit like prison with respect to freedom of movement, or lack thereof. You can’t just go where you want to or leave when you want to - think 50% prison, 50% nursing home.

Granted, my experience in rehab was a long time ago, but often they don’t change what works, so here goes.

At my rehab-

No outside reading material, knitting, iPods, phones, etc- we want you focused on recovery, not escaping or isolating. Sucks but too bad. You won’t have that much free time anyway- lectures, meetings, meditations, group session- they’ll keep you busy. Idle hands and the Devil’s work, and all that…

Smoking used to be allowed in detox rooms, now only allowed outside. People who claim they can barely move sure can hustle out to the patio for a smoke! :wink:

The food was standard hospital fare, but you could eat as much as you wanted and it sure tasted better than anything I’d had lately…

Bring your own shampoo, lotion, hair stuff, etc, AND HIDE IT. :slight_smile:

Mine was not a lock-down facility- I could have left any time I wanted to. Thank God I didn’t.
Bottom line- your best thinking got you here, so someone else is going to be handling your decision-making for a while. Relax and try to go with it. Good luck.

Deb, sober 6,721 days so far…

Try avoiding a beer commercial during the NBA Finals. The room would pulse as the blood pressure of thirty men simultaneously rose at the sight of an ice-cold forthy beer.