Addiction Treatment

How Can Pets Help with Recovery from Addiction?

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Last updated: 05/1/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Addiction treatment often involves many different methods and combinations of treatment in order to meet the needs of patients. Animals that are trained and licensed to help with addiction recovery, while unconventional, have become a popular method implemented by some treatment providers.

Therapy pets have been used in the treatment of several conditions. The common image of a therapy animal is of a dog, but there are a wide variety of animals being implemented as therapy pets.

They Assist in Addiction Therapy

Pets Help

Pets provide recovering addicts with companionship.

Many therapy animals are trained to assist patients with mental health disorders, so they can be a great option for those with a co-occurring mental condition.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, addiction treatment often needs to be customized and not every method will work, so using a therapy animal may not be viable option for some.

Likewise, not every therapy animal is going to be trained to handle everything, so if you are considering this option, make sure that you are working with an animal that is trained for your situation.

They Restore Meaning to Your Life

Addiction often robs a person of their sense of control over themselves and can take away any sense of meaning in their lives. In order for addiction treatment to be considered effective, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it must give the person the means to regain control of their life and live productively.

Pets are often a way for a recovering addict to regain the meaning that addiction took away. The care of the pet can function as something that the addict can focus on and be motivated by.

Many addicts lose their ability to empathize with others and pets can be a simple way for them to regain that ability at a steady pace.

They Provide Comfort and Companionship

Many people chose to get a pet for the companionship that animals offer. The love that a pet gives is often unconditional and they will seek to give affection when they feel their owners need it. They want their owner to be happy and will do what they can to make that happen.

This is often why they are trained and used in therapy and treatment for a multitude of conditions. Those with an addiction may have driven their loved ones away over the course of their addiction. They may feel like they are alone or that anyone in their life can leave them if things get too tough.

A pet fulfills that need for companionship and will not leave their owner under the direst of circumstances. Unlike humans, pets do not care what you look like or what you do so long as you love them. In return, they will love you back and be there when you need them the most.

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