The Benefits of Pet Adoption for Those in Recovery from Drug Addiction

Emotional support helps one succeed in recovery...
(Pixabay image)

During addiction recovery, emotional support is a vital contributor to success. Owning a pet can provide people in recovery a sense of accountability as well as comfort. Numerous studies have demonstrated the mental, emotional and social benefits of pet ownership, and canine therapy is often used at a variety of addiction treatment centers. 

If you are recovering from drug addiction, here are a few reasons why you may want to consider pet adoption as a part of your treatment. 

1. Pets are Non-Judgmental

Stigma is a major barrier to treatment for people with substance abuse problems. The fear of how people will perceive them for going to rehab can be just as difficult as the anxiety they have returned home. 

After completing a treatment program, many people struggle with accepting their past and moving forward in their lives. While you may feel awkward around family or friends, an animal will offer you 100-percent emotional support and love without judging you for your addiction. 

2. A Pet Can Help You Reintegrate

A big part of rehab focuses on helping patients relearn how to live life sober. A pet provides a source of responsibility for recovering addicts to focus on. Every day, you'll have a living creature that relies on you for its well-being. On days when you might not want to get out of bed, your pet will be motivation to rise. Whether you want to or not, the persist boop of a wet nose or thump of a wagging tail will motivate you to get up and start moving. 

When you're feeling alone, your pet will be by your side to remind you that you are cared for and needed in this life. Pets have a way of sensing struggle. Both cats and dogs are a source of emotional and social support for their owners. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains that pets help reduce stress, cure feelings of loneliness and alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

3. You'll Gain a Sense of Purpose

Your new pet can be a source of pride and accomplishment in your recovery. Even if you struggle to reconnect with your family or find where you belong in life, a pet will stick by your side and trust you unconditionally. A cat or dog will rely on you every day to feed them, care for them and give them affection. It's difficult not to feel a sense of pride and purpose when you're solely responsible for another living creature's happiness. 

Unlike people, pets don't expect anything in return. The love they give you is entirely selfless. When you wake up, they'll be waiting to start the day by your side. When you return home from work or counseling, they'll be waiting to greet you and welcome you back. 


4. You'll Get More Exercise

Dogs need to be walked, so if you decide to add a new one to your life, you can expect to stay more active and reap the rewards of greater exercise. Staying physically active isn't just good for your body, either. Regular cardio releases endorphins, which reduce stress and boost your mood. Exercise also gives you a healthy way to channel stress and anxiety. 

5. They Show That Recovery is Possible

Shelter pets have usually been through their own fair share of struggles. Many dogs at rescues come from abusive households, but they still greet new people with a wagging tail. Other adoptable pets have survived on the street or been abandoned. Despite their pasts, these loving creatures show us that recovery is possible. As hard is it might be, they dare to trust again and let love back into their lives. 

An adopted pet can serve as a source of hope and inspiration during your recovery. While you may not find it as easy as they to do to open up, you'll be consistently reminded day after day that life really does get better. 

Save a Life to Start a New One

A rescue animal will help you start this new chapter of your life on a good note. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and having a furry friend beside you can make the future a lot less scary. You may worry about what impact your past has on your life, but a pet will remind you to live in the present and enjoy the moment. Recovery isn't easy, but pets help remind us that life goes on and the right people will always make you feel loved and accepted no matter what you've done or where you've been.

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