Therapy dogs, DSCF0551


Domestic animals and pets have a massive impact on human recovery from addiction and their subsequent health and well being both physically and emotionally. It has been well documented that dogs in particular can help humans recover from all sorts of problems, including substance addiction. Recovering addicts are now being encouraged to get a dog as this can really improve their standard of life as they recover from their treatment. Dog owners tend to form a massive bond with their canine counterpart, and it appears that for some people this relationship can provide the strength and courage they need to beat addiction, as well as speeding up the recovery process.

Research Shows Dogs Can Help

For years, studies have shown that people who own dogs are continually uplifted emotionally by their pets, who soothe them when they are down, something which many people say is their main reason for taking drugs in the first place, or returning to drugs after their detox treatment. People who have either a mental illness like depression or a physical complaint such as high blood pressure have both shown an improvement in their condition when a dog or other pet was introduced to their environment after safety checks. When looking at various techniques used to manage stress, both learning how to exercise properly physically and how to be responsible and accountable for your own actions are generally accepted lessons involved in any addiction treatment and recovery programs. Some people who own dogs have found that their pet fits very naturally into their recovery process. As well as having to go outside and physically walk the dog roughly three times a day, which encourages addicts to get out and exercise, people who own dogs generally have lower levels of stress, which can help them stay off the substances they were once addicted to.

As this research has begun to be published, there have been some changes to the way in which substance abuse treatment centers deal with their patients, especially residential ones. Residential treatment centers are a good way to deal with drug addiction as they take the person away from their environment and give them the chance to get clean away from the things which trigger their addiction. Depression, stress and anxiety all contribute to the reasons why a person may turn to drugs, and as having a dog can lower all three symptoms, they can be a great pet for a recovering addict. When looking specifically at treatment centers though, some have started running specialist programs which let addicts who own pets bring them into the treatment center residence. This is a slow change, but already there is a treatment center located in California which allows almost every kind of pet including dogs. The addicts recovering at this facility report that by allowing them to keep their pets with them, the center has promoted feelings of warmth and love, helping them heal physically and emotionally, as well as encouraging them to take more responsibility.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment With Pets

The treatments which include pets have to be very carefully structured to make sure the correct levels of care are being given to both the person and the dog or other animal. Generally the treatments which involve pets have two specific recovery aims. One is to help addicts build relationships and the other is to reintroduce aspects of responsibility back into the life of an addict who may have lost all their responsibilities through their addiction. A dog can massively help in achieving both these aims as they always provide their owner with love which is unconditional and unwavering, as well as their constant positive responses to any communication with their recovering human counterparts. Dogs also encourage laughter and lighthearted playfulness, something which is missing in the lives of many addicts and encourages them to be active and interested in something separate from their own problems. As dogs are also fully dependent on their owners, it also instills a firm sense of responsibility in their owners as they need to care properly for the dog while it is in the treatment center. This helps to increase a recovering addicts sense of self-worth, which is often destroyed during their addiction. It has also been found that addicts are less likely to leave the program too early if they have their dog with them, as they feel more at home in the center.

A residential treatment center is one of the best ways to help people deal with addiction, and with it being such a massive worldwide problem, new treatments are important in helping people recover. As recently as this month there have been reports all over the USA about the need for more addiction treatment centers. Texas has been on the news recently, with reports saying that over 333,000 Texans will be eligible for addiction treatment next year. With so many addicts to treat, it would help matters if Texas inpatient addiction treatment included people being allowed to being their pets with them. However it is currently very hard for these residential treatment centers to be able to allow pets, because all the centers must individually apply for a special license for animals, as well as providing additional training for their staff so that they can operate these programs efficiently in a way which will keep the addicts and the animals safe and happy. As the many benefits of having pets at treatment facilities continue to emerge, it is likely that a growing number of institutions will be using this advise to improve the standard of care they can provide in the future.


Filed under: All About Dogs

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