Bring Your Dog to Drug Rehab? Why?
Considering drug rehab but don’t want to leave your beloved dog behind? In some situations, this may seem like a ridiculous self-imposed barrier, designed to prevent you from going in for the treatment you know you need to begin your recovery journey. But it may not always be that. It could very well be that you have such an attachment to your dog and your pet brings you a great deal of solace that being able to bring doggie along to drug rehab might just be the best thing for you.
The question then becomes, which drug rehab facilities will allow patients to bring a dog with them as they begin treatment?
The answer, not surprisingly, is few and far between.
But that shouldn’t discourage you to the point of giving up. Definitely keep searching until you have exhausted all the possible avenues for finding a drug rehab that permits dogs to accompany their masters.
For now, let’s look at what may be involved in having your dog with you in drug rehab. In other words, the pros and the cons of doing so, from your perspective as well as that of the drug rehab facility.
Hint: It all boils down to why you’re going into treatment in the first place. You’re there to learn how to overcome your addiction. Anything that gets in the way of that is not a good idea.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. First, let’s examine how and why having doggie with you in drug rehab is beneficial.
In Your Corner
Owners form a strong attachment to dogs and, to some extent, cats, to the point where the animals are treated as members of the family. You would no sooner leave your dog behind when you travel than you’d drive away and not take your child.
Not only that, but your dog is perhaps the one creature that you know will always be in your corner. After all, you feed and walk and love and take care of your pet. You lavish your time and attention on doggie, and your pet, in return, gives you everything it’s got right back. Your dog would follow you into any situation, rescue you if necessary, keep you company when you’re lonely, lick your face when you’re down, and rest by your side to ever keep watch.
Your dog is nonjudgmental, not given to holding a grudge, always eager to see you and play, or just be around you. Doggie accepts you for who you are, whether you’re an alcoholic down on his heels or stressed out and doing a line to ease the pain, or fighting every day to try to regain your sobriety. There’s simply no situation where your dog will be anywhere other than right in your corner, just where you want him.
What a wonderful companion to have during the tough times you’ll need to go through in drug rehab.
But Doggie May Be a Distraction
On the other hand, when you’re in drug rehab, you’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of you. Doggie may prove to be a distraction that keeps you from really getting down to the nitty-gritty of why you got yourself so deep into drugs in the first place.
If your dog is excitable, not used to being away from home, barking could definitely be a problem. And it isn’t just you that the barking will bother, but all the other patients in drug rehab as well. That is, unless you’re off in a secluded cabin or far removed from other residents in a large residential drug rehab facility.
Maybe you’re thinking about playing with your dog or otherwise tending to your pet’s needs when you’re supposed to be concentrating on what your therapist is saying. Or maybe the schedule at the drug rehab facility calls for group therapy or educational lectures or some other treatment modality where dogs simply are not allowed. Again, if your mind is preoccupied with your pet, you’re not doing yourself any favors. And your treatment progress will reflect that distraction.
Why a Drug Rehab Center May Allow Dogs
Now, let’s take a minute to examine why and under what circumstances a drug rehab facility may decide to allow dogs to accompany their owners.
First, it could be that this is a marketing distinction that sets the facility apart from others in the field. This isn’t as cold and calculating as it sounds. After all, drug rehab centers specialize in many different things.
Some are dual diagnosis treatment facilities, meaning they specialize in treating individuals suffering from substance abuse and a mental health disorder. Some are known for their success rate in treating patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, gambling or sex addiction, compulsive spending or workaholism. Many specialize in multiple, simultaneous addictions, such as drugs and alcohol and gambling addiction that co-exist, maybe even with an accompanying mental health disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
There are high-end luxury drug rehab facilities where everything is first-class, from the linens to the size and types of amenities in the accommodations, to the services included that otherwise would be considered extra-cost items: massages, tennis, horseback riding, manicures, other special treatments or services.
Some drug rehab centers are bare-bones, sticking to the detox and then the basics of identifying triggers, learning coping skills to deal with cravings and urges, introducing the patient to 12-Step group philosophy, and so on. There may be no room at such facilities for bringing a dog along.
Yet, when you find a drug rehab facility that will allow you to bring your dog with you to treatment, there are actually some sound reasons behind why this is permitted. And they have to do with your overall outlook.
Think of drug rehab as a process whereby you renovate your life, learn how to recognize the patterns of self-destructive behavior you’ve engaged in and develop proactive and healthier behaviors to replace them. In line with this, the comfort and solace you receive from having your beloved pet with you can be instrumental in helping you achieve the mindset you need to keep pushing when you and your therapist encounter some rough territory during your self-exploration.
There have been some studies that found that dogs have a powerful effect on their owners during drug rehab by reducing anxiety, stress and other mood disorders. This therapeutic effect is not lost on dog owners who’ve known for years that their dogs can help lower their blood pressure, calm them down, and give them the kind of empathy that only a dog-owner relationship can deliver. All of this helps the patient, you, as you begin your recovery journey.
A great deal of time is spent with a therapist or counselor. A dog that’s with you in drug rehab may be a starting point for a conversation, whereas without a common bond, you may be reluctant to enter into a discussion at all. Let’s face it. When we’re addicted, one of our strong points is our self-denial: We’re not addicted. We’ve got it under control. This is just a drying out period. We don’t have a problem.
But the dog that you brought with you? Doggie may just prove to be the ice-breaker that gets you talking with your therapist. This is essential to jump-start the healing process.
Having your dog with you makes you feel more at ease in drug rehab. It’s the closest you’ll get to feeling at home, since you are, after all, not at home but in rehab. And the administrators running drug rehab as well as the therapists know that if you are taking care of your dog, you are getting outside yourself and your troubles. You are not wallowing in your depression, since your animal needs you to take care of him.
All of these are reasons why drug rehab facilities – some – may permit dogs to accompany their owners during treatment.
Be aware that some facilities that do allow dogs to accompany owners to drug rehab will charge extra for it, while others prefer to work with clients on a case-by-case basis. Even if the facility does not charge extra for the patient to have his or her dog with him at night, there may be additional costs for pet-sitting during the day. Most of this is arranged through an outside contractor or provider.
The Promises Malibu Treatment Center in Malibu, California is one such facility that works with clients on a case-by-case basis, does not charge extra for allowing dogs to accompany owners to drug rehab, but requires an outside contractor or provider to pet-sit during the day – which would be an extra cost to the patient.