After attending rehab center and achieving sobriety, addiction recovery demands long-term maintenance and relapse prevention strategies. You will need a lot of support and pets offer benefits to the unique human-animal relationship.
Pets Provide Unconditional Love
Pets love is unconditional and they are always there for you, ready to receive your care and attention. Pets never judge you and this unconditional acceptance helps those in addiction recovery to rebuild their self-esteem. It does not matter what mistakes you have made during the day, they will be still there to happily greet you when you come back to home. Pets provide a level of social support which makes you feel needed, wanted, and to be loved.Humans should also provide unconditional love, however, sometimes judgments slip, and often in families struggling with addiction, this unconditional love spills overturning to enabling the behavior. Pets can not enable your addiction, but they can love you in spite of it.
Pets Help You Learn About Yourself
Animals, especially dogs, absolute emotional honesty. They can not hide their feelings and will show the signs of anger, fear, happiness and relaxation. People can learn a lot and benefit from experiencing their emotional honesty. After years of numbing emotions because of drug and alcohol abuse, expressing emotions becomes a fine skill that has to be relearned. Animals also reflect the emotions shown by the individual handling them. If you are fearful or anxious around a horse, the horse will also act in the same manner. This mirroring helps people to recognize their emotional state and learn to relax.
Pets Help You Build Relationships With Other People
Entering addiction recovery means letting go of old relationships and building the new ones. People can easily build bonds with pets, often more easily than starting new relationships with humans. Pets are also great listeners. You can even talk to them about anything, and practice difficult and nerve-racking conversations with them. Having a pet will get you out of the house to meet other pet owners at the park or pet store, and can also give you a topic for starting a small talk with someone new. Since pets are great companions, in addiction recovery forming and nurturing and supportive relationships with other people is really imperative. Pets also help you to break the ice in the quest for new sober friendships.
Dog Owners Exercise More
Research shows dog owners exercise more often, and exercise is important for overcoming addiction recovery. Your dog can be a great source of motivation to get out for a walk and reap all the physical and mental health benefits. Even if you are not going for a long run with your dog, pets often prompt you to get outside in the fresh air and sunlight for at least few minutes, and this alone helps improve your mood.
Pets Help Reduce Stress
Finding healthy ways to manage stress is an important aspect of preventing relapse since stress is the major relapse trigger. Playing and petting your furry friend can help to lower the oxytocin levels in the brain, which in turn helps you to feel more relaxed and less stressed. This rhythmic stroking of an animal is calming, and the pet therapy also helps in keeping blood pressure levels lower.
Pets Make You Smile And Ward Off Loneliness
Animals always do cute things that will make you smile and encourage you to become more jolly and playful. Just the act of smiling improves your mood and boosts the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Their playful presence also helps in overcoming loneliness, which is important for staying sober in the long run.
Pets Encourage Responsibility
Pets add in emotional responsibility, which you should seriously consider before adopting one and bringing it home. Having a pet can help you re-establish your feelings of self-worth and competence. Caring for another life will help you see outside of yourself and your needs. A pet’s livelihood depends solely on you and your good choices. Their reliance on you can help in building feelings of trustworthiness as you become the more responsible pet owner.With that being said not everyone in addiction will be ready to take on the responsibility of owning a pet. However, this does not mean you cannot experience the benefit that animals can bring in your life.