Going to Rehab?: What to Expect

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Detox and recovery from addiction can be challenging and overwhelming. The more you learn about what to expect at rehab and what you should take with you, the more confident you will feel about engaging with the process.

SAMHSA data shows that 2.5 million over-12s in the United States obtained professional treatment for substance use disorder (drug addiction) in 2020 from the 40 million diagnosed with substance use disorder in that year. Of the 28.5 million with alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), 2 million connected with professional treatment.     

Addiction treatment is available in the following formats:

  • Inpatient rehab: For those with severe addictions, co-occurring mental health disorders, or volatile home environments, inpatient rehab or residential rehab is usually advisable.
  • Outpatient rehab: Many people committed to recovery with a mild or moderate addiction find outpatient treatment offers an effective route to recovery. IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) offer a transition from inpatient and outpatient rehab.
  • Virtual rehab: Anyone unable or unwilling to engage with face-to-face addiction treatment can connect with online therapy.

If you are seeking residential treatment for an addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, you’ll need to check the policies of the treatment facility concerning what you can bring rehab and which items are prohibited. Today’s guide will help you clarify what you should take with you to make your rehab experience more comfortable and what you should leave behind.

Finding and Checking into a Rehab

You might start your search for a drug and alcohol rehab by consulting your physician. They may be able to provide a referral or recommendation.

Addiction is so widespread in the United States that you may find friends or family members can suggest a suitable local rehab center.

You can perform a general online search for “rehabs near me” or “Ohio drug and alcohol rehabs”. This should yield plenty of potential options in your area.

American Addiction Centers produce a National Rehabs Directory. Use this resource to explore over 300 Ohio rehabs. Among these treatment facilities in Ohio, 88 offer inpatient treatment and 307 provide outpatient therapy.

Once you have assembled a shortlist of rehab centers, make contact to determine whether you can access the care you need at a price you can afford. You should also ensure that any rehabs on your shortlist offer treatment tailored to your addiction and/or mental health disorder.

When the time comes to check into rehab, the admissions process will typically involve questions about your substance use and mental health, physical tests, and the completion of all necessary paperwork. This initial stage of rehab allows your treatment team to establish the scope and severity of your addiction, and to start developing an individualized treatment plan.

With the formalities out of the way, what can you expect at rehab?

What to Expect at Rehab

You have two main options when choosing an addiction treatment program:

  1. Inpatient rehab
  2. Outpatient rehab

Inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab, is the most intensive form of addiction treatment on American Society of Addiction Medicine’s continuum of care. The most common inpatient programs are as follows:

  • 30-day rehab
  • 60-day rehab
  • 90-day rehab

Most people with more severe alcohol use disorders or substance use disorders find that inpatient rehab offers the most secure and structured route to recovery. Those with co-occurring mental health conditions or unstable home environments may also benefit from residential rehab.

Studies indicate that many mild and moderate addictions respond equally well to intensive outpatient treatment. We can help you with this at Ohio Recovery Centers.

You will have access to the same services and therapies in an outpatient program as at residential rehab. The key difference is that you will return home or to a sober living community between sessions.

Most of the best drug and alcohol rehabs will offer these outpatient programs:

  • OP: outpatient program providing up to 3 hours of weekly treatment.
  • IOP: intensive outpatient program providing up to 15 hours of weekly treatment.
  • PHP: partial hospitalization program providing up to 35 hours of weekly treatment.

Days at inpatient or outpatient rehab will involve a customized treatment plan that allows you to address both the psychological and physical components of addiction. The treatment team will draw from these interventions:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapies like CBT, DBT, or REBT
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

How to Prepare for Rehab

Here are five simple steps you can take to streamline your entry into rehab:

  1. Tie up legal and financial loose ends: Consider signing up for automatic payments if you have bills that require paying when you are at rehab. Inform the courts if appropriate that you will be attending rehab to explain why you will be out of touch.
  2. Take care of personal and professional commitments: Even if you are reluctant to mention your upcoming stay at rehab to your employer, you should let them know as soon as possible if you are heading to inpatient rehab. If you plan to attend rehab after work in an outpatient setting, this may not be necessary. You should be entitled to up to three months of medical leave until the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), ensuring that your job will be protected while you commit to recovery from addiction. If you are a caregiver, you’ll need to make plans so that your loved ones are properly taken care of while you are at rehab.
  3. Take time out and relax: Try to calm your body and mind as you prepare for rehab and the lifestyle changes involved when moving from active addiction into ongoing sobriety. Soak in the bath, take a walk, or curl up with a good book or your favorite TV show.
  4. Start a journal: Journaling is beneficial throughout recovery. Your journal can document your highs and lows as you detox and then begin your recovery. Pour out your thoughts and fears and log your feelings as you enter a new and exciting phase of life.
  5. Pack what you need but only what you need: Stick to the essentials when you are packing for rehab. Use the framework above to help you. The less clutter you take to rehab, the more you can minimize distractions and focus on detoxing and maintaining sobriety.

What to Bring to Rehab

Before we break down what you need at rehab in more detail, a snapshot of ten key essentials you should not leave home without:

  1. Prescription medications in their original packaging.
  2. Debit card or credit card.
  3. Cash in small bills.
  4. Contact details of all those involved in your recovery (loved ones, healthcare professionals, 12-step sponsors).
  5. ID (driver’s license and passport)
  6. Insurance cards
  7. Journal
  8. Radio alarm clock
  9. Reading material
  10. Paper, stamps, and envelopes.

You should also consider that most rehabs have strict regulations prohibiting certain items –T-shirts emblazoned with drug references, for example.

Most of these items will be forbidden by the majority of treatment facilities:

  • Drugs.
  • Alcohol.
  • Medications without a supporting prescription.
  • Food and beverages.
  • Pornography in any form.
  • Sharp objects.
  • Weapons.
  • Beauty products or toiletries containing alcohol.
  • Clothing that is too revealing.
  • Unapproved OTC medications.
  • Unopened medications.
  • Nail products containing solvents.
  • Gaming consoles and video games.
  • Sporting equipment.
  • TVs.
  • DVDs.
  • Playing cards.
  • Incense.
  • Candles.
  • Aerosol.

Policies concerning laptops and cellphones will vary between treatment centers. You can expect limited access to electronics unless you opt for an executive rehab program, also known as private rehab.

Vapes and cigarettes are usually permitted with limits in place on the amount of smoking or vape products you can bring to rehab.

Check with the rehab center if you are in any doubt about any part of your intended baggage to ensure intake goes as smoothly as possible.

To help you to individualize your rehab packing list, here are the essentials you need grouped in five core categories:

  1. Documentation and ID
  2. Clothing
  3. Prescription medication
  4. Toiletries
  5. Reading and writing materials

1) Documentation and ID

Bring all of the following with you to rehab:

  • State-issued ID, passport, or driver’s license
  • Prescription card
  • Pharmacy card
  • Health insurance card

2) Clothing

Speak with the rehab center you are attending about dress code as most have rigid rules in places concerning what is and is not acceptable.

Most decent inpatient rehab centers will provide access to laundry machines or a laundry service. Bearing this in mind, aim to pack enough clothing for a week or so. Focus on packing easy-care clothes.

Use this framework to personalize the right collection of clothes for inpatient rehab:

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • T-shirts
  • Shirts
  • Cardigans
  • Sweaters
  • Comfy shoes
  • Slides or flip-flops
  • Pants
  • Dress
  • Coat
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Belt
  • Shorts
  • Bathing suit (one-piece for women, trunks for men)
  • Bath robe
  • Slippers
  • PJs
  • Smarter outfit

3) Prescription medication

Take any of the following medications you are using when you go to rehab:

  • Sealed vitamins or supplements
  • Prescription medications
  • OTC medications
  • Liquid medications

Make sure that all medications you take are in the original packaging. Any liquid medications must be unopened with the seal intact to eliminate the chance of using them as vehicle for taking alcohol into rehab.

You should list the prescription medications you are currently taking along with the dosages for the benefit of your treatment team.

Any medications containing alcohol and all narcotic medications will be prohibited at all drug and alcohol rehab centers.

4) Toiletries

Take a supply of toiletries and beauty products to last you the duration of your stay at residential rehab, typically anywhere from one to three months.

Do not pack any toiletries that contain alcohol as one of the first three ingredients. Avoid aerosols, too.

Ensure that you leave all toiletries and beauty products in the original packaging.

Customize this list accordingly to make sure you have everything you need at rehab:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hair products
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Shaving kit
  • Comb or brush
  • Moisturizer
  • Balm
  • Lotion
  • Makeup
  • Sunscreen

5) Reading and writing materials

Take a journal or notebook so you can express your thoughts in writing as you undertake some significant life changes at rehab.

Pack some uplifting or entertaining books in line with your mood.

If you want to correspond with friends or family outside of the treatment facility, take some paper, envelopes, and stamps.

Get Help at Ohio Community Health

When you are ready to move from active addiction into ongoing recovery, heading to rehab is the first vital step.

If you initiate your recovery here at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers, you can address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction in a structured and supportive environment. Additionally, you can also engage with treatment for any underlying mental health conditions at our dual diagnosis rehab center.

We offer treatment programs at the following levels of intensity:

All of our treatment programs provide access to evidence-based therapy, including:

When you are ready to reclaim your life from addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact Ohio Recovery Centers right here or call admissions at (877) 679-2132.

Table of Contents

an image of author Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn