Updated on June 27, 2018
Adopting an Animal Aids in Addiction Recovery
Welcome Jennifer, our guest blogger, today. She’s from The Village Recovery, a drug rehab center in Florida and a fellow dog lover here to tell us how a pet could help in addiction recovery.
How Adopting an Animal Aids in Addiction Recovery
Treatment for addiction is difficult and a lifelong process, someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) must continue their treatment even after they leave their treatment facility, where maintaining recovery can become harder. In a rehabilitation facility, patients are in a controlled environment with people who understand their addiction and how to treat it, but when someone with an SUD leaves rehab and reenters the “real world,” it can be intimidating.
The individual in recovery has to figure out a new routine, learn how to cope with daily stresses in a healthy way, and rebuild relationships that could have been damaged when the individual was misusing. During this time, it’s critical that people in recovery have a strong support network — and for some people it can be a lonely process if they don’t have friends or family to turn to. However, a strong support system doesn’t have to walk on two legs — many people in recovery find support through a furry friend.
According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) people who owned a pet were found to be able to have more positive social interactions, than people without pets had. Owning a pet can also help you build new relationships with other people, the interactions you have with people while walking or playing with your dog, can easily lead to new friendships for both you and your pet.
A study from Harvard Health Publishing determined that pets can help foster human-to-human friendships and increase social support. Another challenge that people in recovery may face are the daily stresses of life. Compiled stress could result in anxiety and depression, and these feelings can be triggering for someone in recovery. To combat these feelings, having a pet nearby can help.
A study in the U.K. demonstrated that 55 percent of people with pets reported that they felt more relaxed after spending time with their animals.
There are numerous benefits to adopting animal for people in recovery, some examples include:
● Developing a routine
● Creating a sense of purpose
● Keeping active
● Learning to socialize
● Building communication skills
● Receiving emotional support
While the benefits of owning a pet are substantial, a person must be certain that they are ready to adopt an animal, because owning a pet is a commitment. If someone in recovery isn’t sure that they’re ready for the major care giving responsibilities that are associated with being a pet owner, they could try lower maintenance animals like fish or hamsters. Only the person in recovery will know when the proper time for them to adopt an animal. Alternatively they can talk to their sponsor or counselor regarding their opinions on the “right time” for pet ownership.
A pet can provide support. Though pet ownership can be challenging at times, recovery can become a little easier with the help of a furry friend. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, call The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative about starting on the path to recovery. The call is free, confidential and there’s no obligation to enroll.
Jennifer is a Florida-based writer who strives to raise awareness for mental health and lifelong recovery from substance misuse and addiction. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading a book at the beach or park and playing her with her two Pomeranians.