How to prepare for an inpatient stay in a rehabilitation setting

Entering a rehabilitation programme for addiction can be daunting. The underlying cause of the anxiety is likely to be the uncertainty surrounding what lies ahead. What will happen during rehab? What will be expected of me? The best way to conquer the uncertainty is by getting informed about and familiarised with the treatment process, which you can read about here, but what also about your own personal preparation?

Here we look at some of key things to consider when preparing for an inpatient stay in a rehabilitation setting.


  • Plan for those everyday life obligations. If you’re entering inpatient rehab, you may be away from your day-to-day life for at least a month, so there are a few life admin things you can do in advance. You can make sure that you’ve got plans in place for any bills to be paid, that you have the time off work confirmed and approved, and that you have plans in place for childcare or pet care or any other help family matters. You may need to arrange before- or after-school care, for instance. If you are a sole carer for an elderly relative, some nursing homes allow a temporary stay for seniors, so this may be an option to ensure that everyone you care for is getting the proper attention they need. There are also little things like suspending your mobile phone service to save a little money, and putting out-of-office messages on your voicemails and emails and any social accounts, and having the post office hold your mail for you.
  • Comfortable shoes and clothes. You will want comfortable clothing like sweatpants and comfy shoes to relax in. There may be gym facilities in the centre, for instance, or you may wish to relax and read a lot. Feeling comfortable is key to feeling relaxed. Perhaps bring a pair of running shoes and set aside time for exercise. It can also help show you how far you have come since you first entered treatment up until you are discharged.
  • Books/music. Whether it’s CDs or an ipod, check first of all what the centre’s policy is on electronic devices – some centre’s do not allow laptops, tablets, etc so make sure you have something you enjoy to unwind with.
  • Bring a few mementos or pictures of things that motivated you to get help. There may well be times when you feel down or experience down moments, most likely during the initial part of your recovery process. Photo of a loved one or other items that remind you of why you are taking part in the recovery can give that emotional support and motivation to continue and progress.
  • Bring one or two journals. You will find that you have extra time on your hands. When your drug detox or alcohol detox clears, you most likely will experience many different emotions. Writing down your thoughts can perhaps help you manage these emotions. Consider what seems to work for you as the treatment progresses and write it down. Not everything works for everyone. Find what works for you and hang onto it for future reference.
  • Participate in group meetings. People are often hesitant to share when they first start treatment. But you should be open to sharing your stories or advice because it will most likely help you and something you say may help someone else. There is an understandable tendency to want to get through the process on your own but working with others who understand your situation can be hugely beneficial to gaining mental strength and confidence.
  • Develop a network of support. It’s essential to develop a strong support system for when you are finished with treatment. Perhaps consider speaking to those people beforehand to give you that security that they will be there for you in your long-term recovery.
  • Try to get back on a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is essential to our overall health and to our recovery. Perhaps try to follow a regular sleeping schedule ahead of joining the programme and stick to it while in treatment. It will benefit you after discharge as you build a new life.
  • Leave the worries of the outside world behind and focus on yourself and the present. This is one of the only times in your life you will be able to truly focus on yourself. Take full advantage of it.