Anyone who has ever had a pet knows the healing power of animals. Having a pet makes you feel needed and loved. A pet provides you with a responsibility outside yourself. Animals lower your blood pressure, relax you and help you cope with stress.
It should come as little surprise to hear that pets can be great partners in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Rehab statistics regarding pets as part of treatment are minimal, but as animal therapy becomes more popular, they are sure to show that pets are a positive part of addiction treatment.
Animal-Assisted Therapy In Addiction Rehab
Using animals in therapy isn’t a new concept, but it hasn’t been applied to addiction treatment for very long. Therapy animals (which are most often dogs but can also include cats, horses and other animals) are often used in situations and settings where people need comfort.
Nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and various types of residential homes allow certified therapy animals to be brought in to bring comfort, stress relief and a distraction to patients and residents.
Drug rehab statistics do not have much to say about animal therapy playing a role in treatment. This is changing, though, as facilities and caregivers realize just how beneficial animals can be to any healing process, including addiction treatment.
Benefits Of Pet-Therapy
Spending time with and petting an animal has many benefits, including:
- lowered blood pressure
- reduced anxiety
- a stabilized mood
- better anger management
- improved self-esteem and
- lower tension and stress
All of these benefits can help an addict in recovery heal and can also reduce the risk of having a relapse.
Are There Any Inpatient Rehabs That Accept Pets?
Rehab facilities are using animal-assisted therapy more and more in treatment for addiction. Field trips to visit therapy horses or visits to the rehab facility from therapy dogs are becoming more common and are great ways to help addicts feel better. However, most rehab centers will still not allow a personal pet to come along for a patient’s stay.
This doesn’t mean it is impossible. There are some enlightened locations that realize just how important pets are in people’s lives. Therapy animals are great, but to have your beloved pet beside you as you get treatment is even better. If you search, you can find facilities that will allow you to bring your companion animal.
If you’re wondering what happens in drug rehab and you’re nervous about going in for a residential stay, knowing that animals will be a part of the program can be a big relief. Animals bring comfort and a feeling of unconditional love and loyalty. They won’t judge you and will make you feel better just by letting you pet them.
If you can bring your own pet to rehab and therapy, you are lucky. If you can’t, you can still benefit from spending time with the dogs and other animals trained to work as animal therapists.
Healing Is Possible!
24 Oct 2014
If you have ever had a pet—a dog, cat, lizard or even just a goldfish, you know that they can help you feel calm, joyful, loved and needed. Caring for an animal and loving and being loved by one is powerful. Using animals in therapy sessions, or even just to calm patients’ nerves in a dentist’s office, has long been a tool in the arsenal of health care providers. With this in mind, consider getting a pet to help the recovering addict in your household. The responsibility of caring for an animal and the unconditional love it will provide could be greatly beneficial.
To understand why having a pet could help the recovering addict you care about, it’s important to learn a little bit about how therapists have used animals to help patients. Patients with a range of illnesses and conditions can benefit from having an animal involved in therapy. This includes children who have suffered from abuse, people with mental health conditions, patients undergoing painful and stressful medical procedures, people facing the stress and fear of terminal illness and even addicts.
Research has uncovered what humans have long known: being around animals is good for us. Even for healthy people, animals make us feel happier and more relaxed. We even know from research that simply petting a dog can lower blood pressure dramatically. Being around and touching animals has also been shown to raise levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which makes us feel happier and more loving.
Bringing A Pet Home For A Recovering Addict
With the benefits of being around animals in mind, consider bringing a pet into your household if you are caring for a recovering addict. A dog or cat, or even a bird or fish, has the potential to bring joy, purpose and meaning back into the life of your loved one. You can choose the level of care and responsibility needed by selecting the right pet. A dog is a great choice if your loved one is active and capable of taking care of a dog’s many needs. If your loved one doesn’t seem ready for a dog, a cat or other pet could be a good choice.
If you decide bring a pet home, get your recovering addict involved every step of the way. Let her help in the decision-making and learn with her how to care for the new pet. Being a part of the process will give her a sense of responsibility, a new purpose and a greater sense of self-worth. The love that she gets in return will be a powerful motivator to stay clean and sober.
Pets Are A Responsibility
As you make the choice about getting a pet to help your loved one, keep in mind that pets are a responsibility. A pet needs a person to care for him and will depend on that person. If you are unsure whether your recovering addict is up for the task, be prepared to step in and care for the animal and all his needs. If you are not prepared to do this, you may not be ready to welcome home a pet.
Rescue Pets – Tools For Healing And Recovery
Animals are powerful tools for healing. To help the recovering addict in your household, consider rescuing a pet. Check out your local animal shelter to find a cat, dog or other animal that needs someone as much as your loved one needs to care for a pet. You may both be surprised at how much healing power comes in a small, furry package.