Being thoughtful and creative, you can gather items to create a care package for rehab that is personalized, will motivate, inspire and comfort your loved one. Small items can really boost spirits when you are in residential rehab. Showing support and care is extremely important when you are separated from your usual environment and placed with strangers.
Receiving care packages from ‘the outside’ helps you feel connected, loved, supported and boosts self-esteem. The little things in rehab make a lot of difference. Keeping self-pity and depression at bay is important. Little tokens can make a bad day better. Create a care package for rehab that has a personal and positive message.
REHAB IS NOT A PRISON – BUT THERE ARE RULES
Drug and alcohol rehab is not prison. You may have been unceremoniously dumped into a treatment facility as a last resort, personally made a decision to reclaim your life, or been ordered by a judge or other authority. The fact remains that you will feel disconnected from the outside world at some point in your stay.
Every treatment center has rules, regulations, and policies regarding what you can and cannot send to your loved one. Visit their website or call to get a list of banned items. Visiting days and family program days are another opportunity to bring small items that say you care, are helpful, or have been requested.
Anything that could be a trigger or that might cause emotional distress should be avoided. If in doubt about an item, check with the case manager. Unexpectedly dumping bad news or providing inappropriate items can set back recovery. Your purpose when putting together a care package is to show your love and support.
If you send a care package through mail/delivery the treatment facility will open it and check the contents, or your loved one will be required to open it in front of a staff member.
If you bring items on visiting day, be prepared for them to be searched before you are allowed to hand them to your loved one. A lot of contraband and even drugs make their way into facilities. Search policies are necessary.
Keep to the rules and don’t sneak in prohibited items. It just causes trouble.
STAMPS, POSTCARDS, WRITING PAPER
Make it easy to stay in contact. Even in this electronic age, rehab is a no go zone for personal cell phones. Old fashioned writing is encouraged. Writing helps the mind to process feelings and emotions and is more personal than a social media post or text.
Receiving outside mail with news from home can sometimes have a disastrous effect. Always write something upbeat, supportive and encouraging. Stick to general topics, light, breezy and non-threatening. Ask about their day, things they have learned and general recovery topics.
Emphasize the positive and minimize the negative. A majority of sticky topics can be addressed during counseling or family program, or set aside to a later date.
Writing things like “we had such a good time without you last night” or gushing about all the great things you are doing in their absence is going to cause homesickness and unhappiness. If you upset your loved one too much, they may walk out of treatment.
Even if it is a great relief to the family to not be dealing with someone in active addiction, don’t rub it in.
Be careful what you write, but write often.
Cellphones and electronics are usually not allowed in treatment. There will be payphones for the clients to use.
Give a calling card or put minutes on your long-distance plan so you can keep in touch. There will be scheduled hours with a time limit. Try and be available during these times. Having to leave repeated voicemails is discouraging.
Again, be careful what you say. Keep it cheerful, upbeat and supportive.
GEL PENS / JOURNAL / BOOKMARKS
There is a lot of writing in rehab. There are assignments, worksheets, note-taking, and daily journaling.
Loose-leaf paper and clipboard are also useful. It makes it easier to write sitting up in bed or in a comfortable spot under a tree. Although general writing materials will be provided, having personalized supplies is nice.
Giving a special journal to write in and something nice to write with will keep a connection with you and be something small for your loved one to carry around with them.
Reading is a common pastime in rehab, colorful bookmarks are small but welcome tokens.
BOOKS / CROSSWORDS / PUZZLES
During personal time reading books with inspirational quotes, short stories, books by favorite authors, devotionals, and small coffee table books offers a mental break.
There are some fabulous self-help books out now that take a completely in your face approach to addiction and recovery.
It is nice to read something other than rehab books for a few hours a week. To truly relax and unwind a good book or magazine is a nice way to spend time.
Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or word search books and adult coloring books are also a good choice. Both encourage the mind to focus on tasks, which is helpful in early recovery.
CANDY / SMALL SNACKS / DRINKS
Favorite candy and snacks will tease the taste buds. Food in rehab is generally pretty good. The focus is on providing balanced nutrition.
Nonetheless, having some favorite candy or snacks can feel decadent. Be aware that the rehab 15lb is real. A majority of people gain weight during their stay. Sugar cravings are also extremely common, hard candies are a good choice to help with that.
Don’t overdo the treats.
On visiting days, you may be able to bring a favorite picnic type food, or outside sandwich or burger.
Red Bull, Rock Star and the like can be popular, but only if they do not trigger thoughts of using. As a treat, a nice cold energy drink is the best.
Juices, smoothies, teas, Starbucks and the like are also nice treats to bring on visiting day.
Starbucks’ single-serve coffee packets, teas, or drink mixes will encourage your loved one to drink more fluids. It takes a while to get used to carrying water bottles and flavor packets can help increase intake.
LOTIONS / TOILETRIES
Do not bring anything highly scented. Subtle fragrances are fine. Chances are personal items were forgotten or have been used up during the time your loved one has been in rehab.
Pick up favorite lotions, lip balms, face creams, body wash, conditioners, deodorants, toothpaste, razors and the like to augment the small number of supplies allowed.
Being able to develop a morning and evening ritual of self-care is encouraged.
Look at ingredients before including toiletries. Anything with alcohol as the first or main ingredient will be confiscated. If it has water as a first ingredient and benzyl alcohol further down the list, it might be ok. Check with the facility.
Aerosols are generally banned. Look for pump sprays.
If the rehab has large outdoor areas or outdoor program, sunscreen, after sun lotion, and bug spray or wipes is also useful.
There will be items that didn’t get packed. Bring a favorite shirt, hat, sweater, or pair of socks from home. Or buy something special as a gift.
Clothing in rehab is casual and comfortable, don’t bring anything flashy, skimpy or with any references to drugs or alcohol. Each rehab will have a packing list that outlines what NOT to bring.
Be mindful and season-appropriate. The weather can be unpredictable, so make sure your loved one has appropriate options to remain comfortable. If they forgot a coat, bring one.
There is often a ropes course, exercise class, workout area, climbing, volleyball, basketball, or sometimes a pool. Provide athletic apparel if needed.
LINENS / BEDDING
A favorite pillow or pillowcase, blanket, or small stuffed animal is usually allowed. You can bring items from home, or send new ones as a gift.
Weighted blankets are now very popular and apparently help with anxiety. Heated throws during the colder months make it more comfortable. Heat is usually kept lowish, having a warm cozy spot to read or write is important.
Space is limited so don’t send huge heavy items.
Little desktop items, pictures, decorated containers, quote cards, small figurines and the like are a cute gift. Something humorous helps too.
A family photo to display is also a great gift, stay away from scenes from partying days. Pick a neutral but nice picture of family or pets. Stay away from photos of ‘firsts’ that your loved one is missing out on unless they specifically ask for them.
You can always make an album, slide show, or digital picture frame for your loved one to give them when they return home.
Space is very limited so keep items small.
A small charm bracelet or personal bangle with a recovery message will be unobtrusive.
A small necklace charm with a heart or inspirational message that your loved one can wear under their clothing is also a nice touch.
Don’t send anything of any real value. Small colorful costume jewelry items or locally crafted items are more than enough. Unfortunately, not everyone in rehab is honest and valuable items can go missing.
Encourage children to make bead bracelets, key-chain animals, friendship bracelets or lapel pins that their parent can wear or put in their pocket as a good luck charm.
COINS / SMALL BILLS
Laundry is usually onsite. Sometimes it will be free, other times it will be coin-operated. Providing quarters for machines, and /or favorite laundry soap / fabric softener makes the chore easier.
Soda machines / snack machines may also be available. Small bills and coins are useful here too.
Off-campus runs to Starbucks or 711 as a reward for clients in later stages of the program are also possible and greatly anticipated.
Be aware that there may be a limit on how much cash a person can carry.
Do an item swap each week. During visiting have your loved one hand over a couple of items to take home, and bring a couple of new ones. Personal space and storage are at a premium. Too much ‘stuff’ and staff might put their foot down and ban any new items.
Items that were packed for rehab but are not being used can go home too. Seasonal clothing, excess shoes, anything that needs mending, or items that require dry cleaning can all go home.
Often you will over pack or in your rush have packed the wrong things. If an item is not practical or not being regularly used, send it home.
If business attire is required for outside meetings or court dates, you should be able to drop an outfit off closer to the day.
One of the greatest gifts you can bring your loved one in rehab is you and your listening skill on visiting days
Now is not the time to lecture, blame, criticize or unload your anger and resentment. Don’t threaten, don’t future trip and don’t ignore them or minimize their feelings.
Listen to what they say. Ask them questions about what they are learning. Take an interest in their wellness, not their sickness.
Take a stroll around the grounds. Sit in the sun, share a meal, bring the kids, participate in the short time you have each week.
Of course, be skeptical. Every single person a few weeks into rehab thinks they’re cured. They’re not. But this is not the time to go into that.
During Family program is an appropriate time to air all the negativity you have. Visiting hours are short and mean the world to someone in rehab.
Spend the time to create a care package for rehab that will brighten someone’s day.
If you truly struggle with being supportive, available, or accommodating – pass the baton onto another friend or family member.
Feeling supported is a make or break deal for someone in rehab.
If you are still researching facilities read this article that addresses the myth that higher priced rehabs offer better treatment. Do your due diligence before committing to a facility.
Prepare for rehab with this in-depth look at what you can generally expect once you are there, and how the process goes.
Never been to rehab before? Here are some tips to help you get through it.