Pets can have a powerful influence on us, as they can provide unconditional love and can help with a variety of emotional, psychological and medical problems. Many addiction treatment centers are starting to encourage people to get a pet while they work to overcome their addiction. For many people, having a pet helps them get through the most difficult parts of recovery.

Therapy Pets

Having a pet to help you with emotional or physical problems is known as a therapy pet. They have been known to improve your mental health, stress, anxiety and depression. Dogs, cats and other pets can be used as therapy pets. Many people consider dogs as the best help, hence the term “Man’s Best Friend,” but others are great as well. Therapists and counselors have long since encouraged their patients to get a cat or dog if they don’t already have one, and for good reason.

How Pets Help With Addiction

Pets love unconditionally, and can offer encouragement and support. They are always there for you and never criticize or judge you. People who are overcoming addiction can often go through bouts of doubt and self-consciousness.  Having a pet close by you no matter what you do or don’t do can lift your spirits when you’re feeling down and give you a sense of security. Having them there may make you think twice about giving in to your temptations, and even during the darkest times, your dog still needs to get out for a walk.

Having a pet can also help you learn to rebuild and nurture your relationships. Animals can encourage playfulness and laughter in your life which can be a great outlet for activity. Also, your pet will rely completely on you for its well being. Having to take care of an animal can help with reassuming adult responsibility and autonomy.

Tips for Your Pets

Getting a pet is a big responsibility, so don’t consider this as an easy therapy solution. While they do offer amazing support on your journey to recovery, you still have some big decisions to make. The type of pet you get really depends on the time and energy you have to devote to your pet. All pets need love and attention, but cats generally need a little less than dogs.

Regardless of which pet you choose, consider the responsibility and the financial obligation you are under. Pets need constant care, compassion and socialization with others. If you decide you aren’t comfortable having your own pet at home, consult your therapist for possible pets you can visit at local shelters. This can be a dog, cat or even a horse. Many shelters simply need people to come in and play with the shelter animals; feed them, pet them and give them much needed affection.

Pets shouldn’t be your only treatment option, but they can offer many benefits for helping you overcome your addiction.

What are your thoughts on having a therapy pet? Has your pet helped you through your road to recovery? Let us know below. 

Published on Mon, 06/09/2014 - 10:57
By Addiction Recovery