How to Prepare for Rehab

Going to rehab can cause you to have a number of emotions, including relief that you are finally getting the help you need, but also anxiety and confusion as it can be rather intimidating. It is important to prepare for rehab, as preparation allows you to be familiar with the rehab process so that you can focus your time and energy on remaining sober.

Planning for the Rehab Experience

Getting to the point where you are now ready to go to rehab may have been a journey for you. You might have already found the right rehab center, made arrangements for admission, and are now ready to sit down and prepare for what is next. You’ll want to minimize any distractions or stresses that you might have while in rehab, so planning is crucial. It is normal to feel stressed and worried about going to rehab and leaving your home, friends, family, and work or school while you are away. However, moving forward with rehab is the next step in your journey to sobriety, and planning will allow you to return to a positive mindset and focus on your long-term goal of staying sober.

Most people need to think about certain areas of their lives as they prepare to go to rehab; below you’ll find some action items to make sure you’re set up for a the best rehab experience possible

Take Care of Your Family & Work First

One of the more challenging areas to deal with when you are going to rehab is work and family. Many people who decide to get addiction treatment are concerned about how their employer will respond and often worry about getting fired while they are in rehab. However, it is important to note that most employers just want you to be the best employee and person that you can be, and if going to rehab to get help for an addiction enables you to achieve your best self, many employers will be supportive. In addition, many jobs have legal protection through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which prevents employers from firing you when you are out of work for a valid medical condition, including substance use disorders. Furthermore, it is not necessary to advise your manager as to why you need to use the FMLA, as only your human resources department needs to be made aware of why you’re applying for leave under the FMLA. Under the Act, you can take up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, provided that a doctor certifies that you need to be out of work. Your employer also has to continue your healthcare coverage during this time.1 You can speak to your employer’s human resources department to ask what documentation and steps you need to take to ensure that your job is secure while you are in treatment.

If you are a caregiver to children, elderly family members, or pets, now is the time to make the necessary arrangements for their care while you are away. Whether you choose to ask friends or family to help care for them, or hire someone, it is important that you ensure their continued care before you enter treatment.

Consider Your Financial & Legal Obligations and Make a Plan

Consider that you may have bills that will come due while you are in rehab and make sure that your financial obligations are met while you are in treatment. You can sign up for automated payments on your rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, loans, tax payments, auto insurance, life insurance, and any other payments that you manually submit every month. If there are bills that need to be paid that you cannot set up automatically, try to find someone you trust to take care of those for you.

If you have legal obligations, such as child support or alimony, work with an attorney to make sure that these payments are made while you are in rehab. Likewise, if you have any pending court appearances, let the court know you will not be available to appear in court and ask to have any pending court dates rescheduled. If you have received a jury duty summons, be sure to contact the court to let them know you will likely not be able to report for jury duty. If you are on probation or parole, make sure your parole or probation officer is aware of where you are going and give an estimate of how long you will be gone. You don’t want to run into trouble with the legal system for failure to meet your obligations while you are in treatment.

What to Pack for Rehab

Bring only what you truly need for your stay in rehab. Leave your jewelry, expensive clothing, designer purses, large sums of cash, and high-end electronics at home. For one thing, it is not uncommon for things to be lost or stolen in rehab, and you may not be automatically entitled to reimbursement for these items from the rehab facility. Further, many facilities will confiscate expensive items and put them in a safe until you are discharged. In addition, you do not need distractions while you are in rehab; an abundance of personal items can distract you from focusing on your treatment, which is the primary goal of rehab.

You will also need to check with the rehab program to see which items are allowed. Many items, such as belts, shoelaces, or clothing with drawstrings are not allowed in a facility due to the risk of potential self-harm. Even if you are not experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-injury, if you are in a program with another person who is potentially suicidal, that person could use your items to hurt themselves, so these items are usually forbidden. Sharp items, such as pocketknives, are rarely allowed. Furthermore, some hygiene products are also not allowed, such as products with high alcohol content, due to the potential of people using these hygiene products to get intoxicated. Each program has different rules about what items are allowed. Check ahead of time to make sure you are not bringing anything that might be contraband.

Write Letters or Keep a Rehab Journal

Another piece of advice for preparing for rehab is to plan to write letters to people, which helps you process your feelings and helps to keep you occupied with a constructive activity while in rehab. Letters to friends and family can also help you communicate to them what you are learning about yourself in rehab and what your goals are for a sober life after rehab. In addition, you can keep a journal where you can list your goals for rehab and what you want to do after you’ve finished treatment. Some good ideas to write in your journal might be:

  • One year after leaving rehab, I can see myself…
  • The one trigger for drinking that I need to learn to cope with is…
  • The thing I will miss the most when I quit using…
  • One thing that I believe I need to learn in rehab…

How Do you Feel About Going to Rehab?

While reading this article, you may have thought of things that you need to take care of as you prepare for rehab that were not covered here. At American Addiction Centers, our mission is to give people the information they need to feel comfortable going to detox and rehab. If you have more questions that were not covered in this guide, call our confidential helpline. It’s free and available 24/7.

When you call us, you can feel comfortable knowing that there is absolutely no obligation to attend treatment. You will not be pressured into coming to treatment. If you are considering rehab for addiction, you undoubtedly have many questions. When you call our confidential helpline, you will speak with one of our Admissions Navigators. Their job is to make sure you have all your questions answered. They can help you understand what happens when you check into rehab, what to pack, how long people stay in rehab, and how you can check yourself into rehab. Our Admissions Navigators will either help you start treatment at one of our facilities or give you the resources you need to find treatment elsewhere. When you are ready, we will be too. We can be reached at .

Your decision to enter rehab is a brave one and it is the first step on your recovery journey. Do not let your worries or concerns about “real life” stop you from getting the help you need for a substance use disorder. With some planning, you can make the necessary arrangements to ensure that your family, financial obligations, and legal situations are taken care of before you go to rehab. This will allow you to focus on your treatment and sobriety while in rehab.