What to Do Before Leaving for Residential Treatment

Committing to going into a residential program to treat an addiction or a mental health condition is a brave decision. The next step can seem complicated because of questions like: what do you do between now and when you leave for treatment? There are a few basic things to consider so that you are ready when the time comes to begin making your big life transition.

Notify People You Will Be Gone 

Going into a residential setting for treatment is a personal event that will likely take some time. An absence from your job, family, or social life will mean that people will notice you are gone. Decide who among your close family and friends you are comfortable being honest with. Give them the necessary information, such as when you hope to be back and your recovery goals. You can appoint someone to let others know if you don’t feel like telling them the news. 

If a leave of absence from a job is necessary, talk to your boss or the H.R. Department. Depending on your employer, you may or may not have to disclose the exact reasoning for needing time off. You may qualify for coverage by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Find out if any vacation or sick days will cover your time off. Meet with your boss to let them know the status of any projects or clients you have and discuss allocating job responsibilities to other employees. 

Packing Your Bags

Check with the facility you’ve chosen to see if they have any packing suggestions or rules. Comfortable clothing is usually a good idea, as there will be a lot of time spent indoors in therapy and group appointments or in your room. You may need good walking or hiking type shoes for outdoor activities. If exercise is part of your stay, bring appropriate workout clothing. If you are traveling to a part of the country with different weather than your area, pack clothing that reflects that, such as sweaters, jackets, or summery items. 

Ask what sort of toiletries you will need to bring. Some places supply just about everything, including shampoo, soap, hairbrushes, and shaving equipment. Other facilities will require you to provide some supplies. Make sure you bring enough items to last throughout the length of your stay. Check to see if there is a limit on items like personal electronics. Some places will allow things like laptops, music listening devices, and other electronics, while some will only allow a cell phone. 

Make Sure Your Paperwork Is in Order

You will need a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, when you check in. If you have insurance, be sure to take your card and any paperwork you might have that shows the approval of your residential stay. If any questions arise, it’s helpful to have a point of contact and these papers handy in order to quickly handle them. If you have any medical conditions, such as epilepsy or diabetes, make sure to write that down and present it during the check-in process. If applicable, make sure to get copies of all vital documents for your own records, as well.  

Staying Calm While You Wait

It’s normal to feel panicky, and project into the future with worries about what might happen or could go wrong. Remind yourself that feeling fear is expected when you embark on something as life-changing as entering a residential program. At the same time, concentrating on that fear will only hurt you. You cannot know precisely what will happen, but you can control your attitude towards the unknown. Put your faith into the idea that good things will come about, and you will leave the facility a better, changed person. 

Whether you have a few days or a few weeks before it’s time to leave, plan blocks of time to engage in activities that help reduce your stress levels. An invigorating yoga session or a relaxing meditation break can help you reduce anxiety. Write in a journal about what you are feeling and how you can negate any anxiety-provoking thoughts with positive affirmations. Journal about your feelings and remind yourself that even if you are experiencing fear, what you are doing is brave and will make your life better. Remember that bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather it is feeling fear and still doing the brave thing. You are capable of changing your life in ways you have not even imagined yet!


Making the decision to enter a residential program for addiction or mental health issues is a big step. Between the time you commit to going and the time you leave, there are steps to get yourself ready. Remember to pack, notify people you’ll be gone, and prep your employer for your absence. It’s also essential to not let anxiety overtake you or tempt you to cancel your plans to get help. Valiant Living provides treatment for many mental health conditions and addictions and will be happy to work with you to prepare for a residential stay with us. Our men-only facility in the beautiful Denver area is the perfect setting to allow you to focus on learning to take care of yourself and return home as a healthier, happier person. Call us now and let us help you plan for a new life you didn’t know you could have! (303) 952-5035