Dogs are truly our best friends. Having a therapy dog or another animal while in rehab can really help people in recovery learn to live and love again. The Ranch PA has a therapy dog who loves to interact with residents, and this interaction helps them feel more at home and at ease as soon as they arrive. But dogs do much more for anyone recovering from drugs or alcohol abuse. Therapy dogs or other animals can:
- Offer companionship: Addiction is a lonely disease. Many people fighting addiction isolate themselves when they are using substances. Some need to make new friends once they return from rehab. A therapy dog or another pet provides companionship so you do not feel lonely anymore.
- Give unconditional love: It is hard to feel loved or lovable when you are in rehab. You are dealing with the effects of drugs, alcohol, or other substance abuse. Dogs and other companion animals do not care what you look like, how you are dressed, or how long you have been sober. They just love you. As a source of unconditional love, therapy animals are a great asset for rehab.
- Teach responsibility: Therapy animals must be cared for no matter how tired you are. Dogs need regular walks, and all animals need to be fed, provided with fresh water, and groomed or cared for in some way. Therapy animals teach people in recovery the lesson of responsibility for someone else.
- Provide exercise: Most animals need some sort of exercise, even if it is just a play session. Walking a therapy dog, playing catch, or playing fetch are all great forms of exercise.
- Relieve stress: Petting dogs, cats, or other therapy animals relieves stress, and scientists have proved it. A study conducted by The University of Missouri-Columbia demonstrated that petting a dog you know and love releases serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happy. It also lowers blood pressure. That’s good medicine!
Do You Need a Special Type of Dog for Therapy in Rehab? There is no special dog breed or type used in addiction therapy and recovery. Any dog will do, as long as they are friendly, do not mind being around a lot of people, and know how to behave in a group setting. Other animals are also used in rehab programs. Equine-assisted therapy, for instance, is available at special stables nationwide that provides people in recovery with experiential therapy. Horses are big and strong, and they need clear communications in order to act the way you want them too. A trained hippotherapist, or a therapist trained to use horses for physical or emotional recovery, can work with you to include horses as part of your therapy. A dog, cat, goldfish, snake, rabbit, or guinea pig — all animals make good therapy animals. At The Ranch PA, our therapy dog offers you a listening ear and a gentle smile whenever you feel down. Combined with our individual and group counseling and other recovery programs, we can help you successfully manage cravings and recover from your addiction. Call us at 844-240-5360. Photo via