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7 Benefits of Pet Therapy in Recovery

Anyone who has an animal knows how uplifting they can be. Animals can have a positive effect on your mood and also make great companions. This is why so many people have them and often care for them as they would a family member. They can be great for anyone, especially for people in recovery. When recovering from addiction people can sometimes feel lonely. They are rebuilding relationships they may have lost while in active addiction and building up new relationships as well. Feeling isolated or alone can be dangerous for someone in early recovery. Getting a pet can, in fact, be very therapeutic and help dramatically when feeling vulnerable or thinking about picking up.

Animal Assisted Therapy is great for anyone who really loves animals. Typically people spend an allotted amount of time with trained animals, most commonly cats, dogs, and horses. These animals are supportive and loving companions that are extremely helpful through the treatment process. Here are a few ways that Animal Assisted Therapy can help you in your recovery:

  1. Animal interaction is calming – Overcoming addiction is difficult and at times can be frustrating. When an issue arises, drugs or alcohol are no longer an option. Instead, you have to face the issue head-on and that can be extremely stressful. Spending time with an animal can alleviate this stress and renew your sense of security and safety.
  2. Pet companionship helps you connect with others – Animals can improve your emotional state and it has been proven that playing with an animal increases your brain’s oxytocin level, helping you feel connected to other people. Feeling a connection to others can help you in your path to sobriety.
  3. Animals help you open up about your issues – Addiction often comes with many unresolved feelings from actions you may have made while using. When you finally get sober and have a clear head, you can begin to reflect on the past. Animals love unconditionally and they will never judge you, so having a companion can really help people open up about what they are going through.
  4. Animals encourage physical activity – Most animals require a good amount of care and tending to. Dogs need to be walked frequently which means you’ll need to start getting active. Taking your animal on walks will help you get out of the house, break up your day, and get you some fresh air. Also, walking can be a great way to get some exercise and get your endorphins going.
  5. Animals help feelings of loneliness – Even if you can’t reach a supportive friend or family member, an animal will always be there for you. Having an animal can also help when you feel like no one understands what you’re going through.
  6. Animals decrease co-dependent tendencies – Co-dependency is common among those in recovery. Having an animal provides you with companionship that won’t put you at risk for unhealthy relationships.
  7. Recovery is possible – If you ever feel like giving up, an animal can help you realize that recovery is possible and you don’t have to feel hopeless or alone ever again.

Animal Assisted Therapy is a great therapeutic tool and can really help someone to cope with their addictions and temptations. It can provide a newfound hope that at times may have seemed impossible. Having a positive outlook on life can set you up for great success in your recovery.

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