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How Do I Prepare for Rehab?

There are a few things you can do to prepare for rehab so that you know when you get there, you are focused only on learning the skills needed to stay sober.

Planning For Addiction Treatment

preparing for rehab

After you’ve committed to going to an addiction treatment center, it’s time to think about the steps you should take in order to be fully prepared for your stay in rehab.

It’s common to feel stressed over putting things such as your job, bills or family obligations on hold while you’re in rehab.

However, it’s important to understand that all of these things can be dealt with by taking time to prepare for treatment.

You have already made the difficult decision that it’s time to get help. Now, it’s just about taking the appropriate measures that will allow you to return to a positive space where you can successfully use the skills you learned in rehab.

Steps To Preparing For Rehab

The following tips outline what you can do, both mentally and physically, in the weeks leading up to your stay in rehab.

Taking steps to prepare for rehab ensures that your mind is at peace and you can stay focused on maintaining your sobriety while in recovery.

Take Care of Work and Family Obligations

You might be hesitant to mention your upcoming rehab stay to your employer, but anyone who appreciates you as an employee will want you to get better. They want the healthiest, happiest and best version of you, so the sooner you can let your employer know, the better. 

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave, so your job will be protected during your stay in rehab.

If you’re a caregiver to children, elderly parents or even your pets, now is the time to make sure your loved ones are being taken care of while you’re away. Ask your family or friends to look after your children or pets, or look into options for temporary care. It will help put your mind at ease to know the people you love are in good hands while you’re away.

Tie Up Any Financial or Legal Loose Ends

If you have bills that need to be paid while you’re out, make sure you sign up for automatic payments or speak to someone you trust about making sure your bills get paid. You definitely won’t want to come back, ready to tackle life, and be saddled with financial stresses.

“Tell [your] family goodbye and try to leave jobs, bills, and drama outside. Be willing to change. Look at yourself. Be honest. 

Lori M., recovering addict

If necessary, make sure the courts know – whether via your own correspondence or through your attorney – that you’ll be entering a rehab facility so they are aware you may be out of touch. Even if your rehab stay is verbally understood, it’s always best to get a legal “OK” on paper.

Make Sure You Have the Essentials – And Only the Essentials

It can be tempting to bring everything with you that reminds you of home, but taking only the things you really need will make sure you are adhering to your rehab center’s set of allowed items. 

I would say go with anything you have and if not, go with nothing — but go! It can change life. It has for me! The clothes and stuff you can get later, but you probably won’t have another opportunity to save your life.

Jacqueline V, recovering addict

By sticking to the essentials, you will also minimize any outside distractions that can compromise your sobriety. While in rehab, your focus should be mostly on yourself and getting the best treatment you can, so leave any “extras” behind – they’ll be there for you when you get back.

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Enjoy the Company You Keep 

You may feel like there are a million things you need to do before entering rehab. However, it’s important to make the time to enjoy the positive people in your life prior to leaving. Your family and friends will inspire you to make the most of the treatment you will be receiving and reassure you of your decision to get help.

You may have to be the one to reach out to them and let them know how much you care and how grateful you are to have them — and that’s okay. Let them know exactly why you’re entering rehab, and the changes you expect to see in yourself when you return. This will help hold you accountable to stay sober once you get back.

Write a Letter or Keep a Journal

Check in with yourself and keep your mind occupied by writing a letter to yourself or a loved one. The letter can consist of anything that’s on your mind, from a list of goals you’d like to achieve in rehab to things you want to do when you check out. It could also be as simple as how you’re feeling about the whole situation.

You can also keep a personal journal to document how you’re feeling each day or to have a log of what has become more or less difficult in the days leading up to rehab.

Take a blank notebook and journal. It was really useful and still is handy to go back and see just how far I have come. 

Jenn, recovering addict

If you’re stuck in a rut or are unsure how to get started with your journaling, here are a few helpful journaling prompts to get you started:

  • My favorite way to spend the day is…
  • If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is…
  • The two moments I’ll never forget in my life are… (describe them in great detail, and what makes them so unforgettable)

Take Time to Relax

You’re going to rehab to get on a great path to taking care of yourself, so why not get a head start in preparing for rehab?

Think of something that truly relaxes you. Is it taking a walk around the block? Soaking in a warm bath? Watching a favorite show? Whatever it is that will get you in a relaxed state of mind and allow you to begin getting excited about this new chapter in your life, devote the time to do it. It’s normal to be nervous about going to rehab, but allow your mind to be as calm as possible in the time leading up to your departure.

Start Preparing For Rehab Today

Deciding to go to treatment for your addiction to drugs or alcohol is a monumental step that will make things so much better for you and the people who love you. Know that you are making this decision to get better and live a fuller life. Being prepared for rehab is the best way to ensure that you get the most out of your treatment experience and come out equipped with the tools to stay healthy and sober.

Do you or someone you love need help preparing for rehab? Please call us now to learn what else you can do to prepare for treatment.

Sources & Author Last Edited: January 11, 2017

  1. United States Department of Labor. (2015). Wage and Hour Division (WHD): Family and Medical Leave Act. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
  2. Amazon. (2013). Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth About Addiction Treatment-and How to Get Help That Works. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Rehab-Surprising-Addiction-Treatment/dp/0670025224
  3. Psych Central. (2014). 30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/09/27/30-journaling-prompts-for-self-reflection-and-self-discovery/
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

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