Creating the Perfect Care Package for Someone in Recovery

When someone you know, and love is having a hard time and has finally entered rehab or a sober living facility, you can do more than send thoughts and prayers. Because many inpatient rehabilitation centers limit interaction with the outside world, treatment can feel isolating at times. Not everyone can rearrange work schedules and personal lives to accommodate designated visitation hours, so the next best option is to show you care. And what better way than to send or drop off something special?

Care packages for those in rehabilitation or sober living centers are always appreciated, and they don’t have to be expensive or elaborate to make a big impact. Just a little something that says, “we’re thinking about you,” “we miss you,” or “we’re proud of you for putting in the hard work to live your best life” will brighten someone’s day. That said, there are a few general rules of thumb to follow:

Rule #1:Check with the treatment center to ask what’s permitted. Most of these facilities, inpatient treatment in particular, restrict what residents have access to, so before you put together a personal grooming package or gather up someone’s favorite toiletries, check to make sure those items are allowed. Personal touches such as a plant or lightly scented room spray can go a long way toward making an inpatient stay feel less clinical. If shared rooms are the norm, think about including a set of noise-cancelling headphones.

It also never hurts to ask treatment staff what patients typically appreciate most – or if your loved one is asking for anything specific.

Rule #2: Comfort items are always a win. Think soft sweatshirts, new pajamas, plush socks, comfortable loungewear. Wearing something you’d wear “outside” can help shift mindsets from a focus on being in treatment and in a clinical setting to the goal: eventually returning to an independent lifestyle.

Rule #3: What you choose to include in your care package doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but anything with a personal touch is welcome. Consider sending along the new book by someone’s favorite author, some inspirational quotes, or breathtaking photos from a previous trip to the beach or mountains. If your friend or loved one enjoys coloring, send along some art supplies so they can fill their downtime with a favorite hobby or activity. A word of caution though: If you’re thinking of sending photos of you and your loved one, make sure to avoid anything that might remind them of past substance abuse.

Rule #4: Favorite food items are always appreciated, but keep in mind that facility regulations may prohibit or discourage the consumption of certain snacks and drinks, e.g., caffeinated sodas, treats with too much processed sugar, etc. And make sure your ideas accommodate the patient’s personal dietary restrictions.

Rule #5: Once you have your package assembled, take a second look, reminding yourself that the contents will be inspected before they’re turned over to your loved one. Steer clear of including anything too personal or anything that might embarrass someone. Items that wouldn’t inspire a second glance when passed between friends might make someone feel self-conscious in an unfamiliar setting.

When you’re away from home, surrounded by people you don’t know and health care professionals, the entire experience can make someone feel a little “unmoored.” Sending along a little package that shows you’re thinking of someone – a physical reminder that they’re loved and supported – can really brighten a day. Because sometimes, it’s the seemingly trivial things that inspire someone to make big changes.

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