We love our pets. Animals have been known to save lives in all sorts of ways. Sometimes just being there, a pet can save a person. Pets are not just cute and fun but have been shown to ease loneliness, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide unconditional love and affection. This is why animal therapy has become so popular.
Beyond having a pet, animals can actually serve as a treatment for those with substance use disorder (SUD). Pet therapy or animal therapy, and animal-assisted addiction treatment is a therapeutic intervention that uses the assistance of animals in a person’s treatment plan. Support animals can include cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, fish, and more. The Laguna Shores Recovery Center emotional support animal (ESA) program is a prime example of the benefits animals have on recovery.
Along with the benefits of traditional therapy, animal therapy is used as a catalyst for those suffering from a wide range of disabilities, including trauma, anxiety, depression, and even addiction. What are the benefits of pet therapy, and how can you incorporate it into your addiction treatment plan?
Animal Therapy for Addiction Treatment
When animal therapy is added to an addiction treatment plan, a certified therapy animal is used. For example, a certified therapy dog would not be the same as a service animal or regular companion. A certified therapy dog is used to help in the therapeutic process of patients by acting as a catalyst for the patient.
Though it is not the sole based treatment for addiction, animal therapy can be added to a treatment plan for those in psychotherapy. As science continues to pursue the connection between addiction treatment and animal therapy, it has been shown that animal therapy has helped patients stay in care. The motivation animals can give clients can sometimes be what they need to continue treatment.
It is important to distinguish and remember that animal therapy and animal-assisted addiction treatment is not just a visiting animal to help you during your therapy sessions. Animal-assisted addiction treatment is used as an “intervention” in which the person in recovery learns from therapeutic, educational, and recreational activities with the animal.
Realistically, there are other approaches to therapy where those suffering from addiction benefit from these life-saving treatments, such as animal therapy. Pet therapy provides the patient with an alternative way to be helped as well as overcome their toughest battles. What better way to do it than with a furry friend by your side?
When a person is being treated for substance abuse or a chemical abuse addiction, animal therapy can help them sort through their emotions and anxieties, furthering their chances of staying sober. It can also improve self-esteem and provide a greater understanding of their recovery process.
The Benefits of Animal Therapy
For those in addiction recovery, animal therapy has been shown to have many benefits, not just on the emotional level but on the physical and spiritual level as well. Adults who struggle with addiction and other mental health disorders have shown that they benefit from a level of care and intervention from an animal.
Animal therapy is based on a holistic style approach to overcoming addiction. While animal therapy is not meant to be a replacement approach to evidence-based therapies, including detox and psychotherapy, it can be used to assist in the process.
Treating Addiction and Mental Health with Animal Therapy
A treatment plan can also include treating addiction and mental health at the same time. In fact, therapy animals assist in the treatment of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. If you are looking to treat both your addiction and mental health at the same time, animal therapy is a holistic therapeutic way to treat your addiction and mental health. It can also make you feel comfortable and confident during the process.
As your doctor, or primary care physician, their recommendations to a good therapist who also uses pet therapy during their sessions. You could also bond with your own pet and have them become a trained and certified support animal. For this, the animal must show patience and the ability to behave well in public settings.
There are some unexpected and excellent benefits to animal therapy that could also help you overcome addiction. When you bond with an animal you are able to get exercise, improving your overall health. Animals also act as a safe haven in which you feel safe in their presence. As with any type of therapeutic method, it is important to feel comfortable and safe. Choosing an animal that helps you feel this way will benefit your time in therapy immensely.
Holistic approaches to therapy are becoming ever more popular in society. However, sometimes overlooked is the animal sitting right by our side. Often, therapy is shown as someone talking one-on-one with a doctor or therapist. It is also depicted as sitting around in a group and sharing with your fellow human beings.
Laguna Shores Recovery Center has various forms of treatment to aid you in your healing journey but our equine therapy and ESA program are two animal-assisted methods that offer immense support and improved wellbeing to clients.
Animals, especially pets, provide unconditional love to their humans. But beyond the pet and owner bond, animals have a way of providing safety, comfort, and support to those who need it. Whether you’re just beginning recovery, well into your sobriety, or somewhere else in the process, animal therapy can be a beneficial tool to improve your health, wellness, and mood. Laguna Shores Recovery provides emotional support animals to those in their addiction treatment programs. This level of companionship can ease stress, improve mental health and reduce feelings of loneliness. Reach out to us at (866) 774-1532 to learn more about how animals and pet therapy can help you in your recovery journey.