How Can Animals and Pets Help Those in Recovery?

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Pet therapy and other animal therapies have been known to be effective for helping some of those in recovery from addictions. People struggling with addiction can benefit from the companionship of pets or by having something to care for. Pet and animal therapy can be beneficial to those in recovery in many ways like reducing anxiety and learning responsibility. You may have a pet currently and are worried about caring for your pet during treatment. Some treatment centers are flexible with pet policies and may allow you to bring your pet to treatment with you. These pet policies are often contingent upon the comfort of the other clients currently in the facility. Someone may be allergic or another person may have a traumatic experience relating to animals. Whether you are able to bring your pet along to treatment or not, you can still benefit in your recovery through pet ownership or other animal-based therapies.

How Do Pets Help Us?

Your pet may be a source of companionship. If you live on your own, having a pet may help you feel less lonely. You are inviting another living creature to share your home with you. You might talk to your pet or bring your pet along with you to parks or other outings. Animals, especially dogs, can help you feel protected and secure in your home. Feelings of insecurity can occur most often during the night prior to falling asleep. Having an animal for companionship that can also protect you can help you fall asleep peacefully. Sharing your home with another creature can help you feel secure and grounded in your environment. Even houseplants can help reduce loneliness, as many people talk to their plants while watering and caring for them. 

Pets can also teach you about responsibility and having a routine. Your pets may need regular activities, like feeding, cleaning cages or tanks, going for walks, or cleaning litter boxes, all of which they are dependent upon you for. While caring for your pet, you may be learning about how to be responsible for your own care needs. You may need to schedule your routine based on some of your pets’ needs. You may be going out for walks with a dog, which can help you stay active and meet new people. Grooming a dog can be a calming and soothing activity for both of you, as you bond with your animal during the process. Remembering to feed a fish daily or clean the cage of a guinea pig on a regular basis can help you gain skills of responsibility and accountability. These skills can transfer to many other areas during your recovery.

Equine Therapy

If you are unable to have a pet in your home, you might benefit from finding animal-based therapies in settings outside of your home. Equine therapy uses horses to help you gain the emotional support of animals while in recovery. Horses require a lot of care to stay healthy and strong. Equine therapy may involve caring for the animals in addition to learning to ride horses. Horses require care in cleaning stalls, grooming, and feeding that can get you outdoors and in an open setting. Caring for horses can also be great exercise, as you may need to walk through long barns or fields while tending to the animals’ needs. Learning to ride horses can help you build self-esteem and self-confidence. Riding horses can also help you build your distress tolerance and build empathy.

Volunteering With Animals 

Volunteering at shelters or other animal sanctuaries can be an option for those in recovery. You might help by walking dogs regularly at a shelter or by providing companionship time for cats. All animals require attention and love. Shelters can be great places to volunteer if you would like to help animals with their needs. You may be asked to help with feeding, cleaning, or simply playing with animals to help at a shelter. Other places have “rescue animals” at sanctuaries, who have come from neglected or abused pasts. These sanctuaries may have volunteer opportunities and the types of animals can vary. Some sanctuaries may have wild animals that people have tried to keep as pets. Others may have abused farm animals, which require a lot of work outdoors and in barns. Equine therapy centers might even have volunteers to help those with special needs learn to ride horses safely.

If you love animals and are in recovery, pet ownership, equine therapy, or volunteering at animal sanctuaries may help you. You can learn responsibility while gaining the benefits of companionship through pet ownership. Rescue animals may provide you with a source of connection, as these animals have also been through some tough times in their lives. If you are holding back from entering a treatment facility due to worrying about your own pet, ask the facility about their pet policy. You may be able to bring your pet along with you to experience recovery together!

Everlast Recovery Centers in Riverside, California, understand the important role that pets and animals can play in our lives. You may be hesitant in seeking a recovery program due to worrying about your pet. We have a pet policy that allows for clients to bring pets as long as the pet does not impede upon other clients’ health or recovery needs. While we cannot guarantee that you can bring your pet along with you, we will try our best to accommodate pets if we are able. We also encourage our clients to try alternative therapies involving animals, such as equine therapy. Pets and animals can greatly assist those in recovery. If you have a pet and are seeking a treatment facility, call Everlast Recovery Centers today at 866-DETOX-25 to speak to us about your needs. We may be able to accommodate you and your pet!

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