In the year 2011 alone there were 1,844,719 rehab admissions in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If your friend or family member is in a similar situation, sending or bringing a care package to the treatment center can offer a soothing slice of home during a trying time.
Follow the Rules
Before putting together a care package for your loved one, check the treatment facility's rules or policies. These will give you a clear idea of what you can -- and can't -- send to or bring your family member. There are the outright no-no's, such as drugs -- including pills -- and alcohol, but there are also some not so obvious items that the center may object to. For example, the Central Texas Treatment Center doesn't allow jewelry. Some centers also require patients to open all of their mail in front of staff members. If this is the case, don't send anything that is too personal or potentially embarrassing. For example, a racy picture may be embarrassing, and against the rules of what images are allowed.
Even though racy pictures aren't appropriate for rehab, you can include photos from home in a care package. If you're sure that your loved one can display photos in his room, frame a few family pictures that feature happy -- and sober -- times. For example, send a photo of a vacation that you took before your loved one started using. You can also take new pictures of you and your family or friends to include in the package. Hold up hand written inspirational quotes, snap a photo and frame it. Photos can help your loved one feel your support and help him remember why he is fighting to get clean. Remember that many treatment facilities allow frames but not the glass front. Others may have a limit on how many pictures a resident may display at one time.
While Mom's double chocolate chip cookies may seem like a comforting way to care for your family member while she's in rehab, sugary sweets and salty snacks won't keep her body healthy. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that eating a nutritious diet that includes low-fat foods, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fluids "can help improve the odds of a lasting and healthy recovery." If food packages are allowed, send multi-grain crackers for your family member to snack on or deliver a basket full of tropical fruit.
Pieces of Home
Your loved one will probably feel homesick while in rehab. Not only does he miss you and the rest of his family and friends, but he may also miss his house and the personal items in it. Pack up small-sized objects that provide pleasant memories. For example, send him his comfy pillowcase, if he's allowed to have linens from home. Or, send his favorite hat or T-shirt, as long as it doesn't have restricted images on it. If you can't physically send an item -- such as his bed -- take a picture of it for the package to amuse him.
- Richard Ellgen