Can I Bring my Medications with Me to Rehab?
Yes, it makes sense that drugs aren’t allowed in rehab. Of course that’s the case. But, that is probably making you worry about the medications prescribed by your doctor. If a doctor or psychiatrist gave you the prescription, then you clearly need it and being without it would be unhealthy, right? But, you still have a sneaking suspicion that you won’t be able to bring it.
Every rehab is different and they each have different rules and regulations, including those linked to prescription medications. Also, the rules are generally applied on an individual level as well. Certain people may be able to bring a prescription while another person may not. It depends on what is being treated and what is being prescribed.
In general, as long as a prescribed medicine is not being abused, it can be brought with you. Your best bet is to consult with the rehab centers you are thinking of attending and asking them what their policy would be in your case.
What Are the Typical Prescription Medication Rules?
Again, every program is different, but the following rules are fairly universal.
- You may bring vitamins.
- You may bring nicotine patches.
- You may bring certain over-the-counter medications, provided you have not opened them yet.
- You may bring pills and tablets, provided they are in their original bottles.
- You may not bring medication samples.
- You may bring liquid medications in a sealed bottle.
- You may only bring enough medication to cover the length of your rehab stay.
- You may only bring those medications for which you have a prescription.
However, even with these rules, there is generally a list of medications that you still are not allowed to bring.
Why Are There So Many Rules?
There has been a huge increase in the abuse of prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 52 million people—roughly 20 percent of those aged 12 and older in our country—have used prescription medications for nonmedical reasons on at least one occasion. In particular, central nervous system depressants, opioids, and stimulants are used in high numbers and pose adverse health effects, including addiction and death.
For this reason, drug addiction treatment centers have a heightened awareness of the dangers medications can pose for addicts and their sobriety. This is why the medications that enter the facility are so closely monitored.
For example, all incoming medications need to be part of a current prescription, but the labels must also be legible and include all pertinent information. If there appears to be any information that contradicts your present need for this specific medication, you will not be allowed to bring it in to the rehab.
This is also why all liquid medications must be in sealed bottles. The rehab center doesn’t want the medication to have any additives of to be swapped out for something that is not allowed.
What If My Medication Contains an Addictive Compound?
If you have been prescribed an opioid painkiller or a benzodiazepine sleep aid, the presence of your medication in the rehab center poses a risk for other patients, specifically those with a prescription medication addiction. So, what do rehab centers generally do?
If you have chronic pain and your prescription medication contains addictive substances, but you are in rehab for an alcohol abuse disorder, it may seem that your medication would pose no problem. But, again, it may be a problem for other patients., It can even pose the risk of polysubstance abuse for you.
To address this, rehab centers will work with you and your doctor to come up with an alternate prescription that poses less threat. If there is no way to get around it, you may be permitted to bring the drug on the condition that it be kept locked away and administered to you in doses by the staff.
Be open with the rehab center about your medication use and speak with your prescribing doctor about your intention to enter rehab. The better you communicate with each, the more likely you are to find a solution.
We can help you with your communication. Call 800-681-7369Who Answers? and speak to someone who can walk you through rehab medication rules. We can help you find a center whose regulations appeal to your individual situation.