How To Heal With Pet-Friendly Treatment While in Recovery?

A guy holding his dog in his arms and giving it a kiss.

How To Heal With Pet-Friendly Treatment While in Recovery?

For some individuals, healing while in recovery can be a vulnerable time. This can be due to the many sacrifices made to promote long-term sobriety and mental stability. It can be helpful for one to attend outpatient care after initial treatment. For example, participating in therapy, counseling, or residing in a sober living home are just a few aftercare options for those who are facing challenges while in recovery. Depending on the facility chosen, some treatment centers provide pet-friendly assistance to individuals in their recovery process. Incorporating pet-friendly treatment in therapy can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life. 

The Challenges Associated With Recovery

Early or long-term recovery can be a very difficult time for some men. For example, one may choose to completely change their residence, remove unhealthy relationships, or quit an old job, in an attempt to discontinue bad habits. This is often required to prevent unwanted triggers and decrease substance cravings. 

The many changes can feel overwhelming, as early recovery can be a very busy phase in one’s life. Recovery is a time when one practices self-care to increase their self-esteem, confidence, and overall mental and physical health. The many life changes can bring on intense feelings of anxiety and stress. Although it may feel hectic for some individuals, one may commonly adapt to their new environment through built-up strength and support. Once everything is set in stone, and time passes, it is common for an individual to feel bored. As things slow down, cravings begin to surface. This can be due to feelings of intense loneliness felt after removing toxic friendships. 

According to a study published in the Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment scientific literature, the most challenging part of one’s day is often derived from periods of unused time. A lack of structure can often lead one to reach back out to their old support system. Even though recovery involves major sacrifice, making new connections with like-minded individuals can help one adapt to their new life. Establishing a consistent routine while in recovery can help one maintain healthy habits for a better future. 

What Is Pet-Friendly Treatment?

When an individual finds they are slipping in recovery, reaching out for professional support can be highly beneficial. It may be helpful for one to communicate with their current provider to discuss various outpatient treatment options, complementary services, or alternative forms of care to their current plan for a better experience while in recovery.

For instance, exploring animal-assisted therapy can be a convenient choice. Based on a study published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, animal-assisted therapy is a complementary type of therapy that includes animals in an individual’s treatment plan. This type of treatment is intended to improve an individual’s social, physical, emotional, and cognitive ability to function. Pet-friendly treatment integrates animals into each session for a more supportive approach to care. This therapeutic approach has been studied for various pathologies including substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health conditions. Animal-assisted therapy is an increasingly popular form of treatment for individuals facing different challenges in their lives. 

Incorporating Pet-Friendly Treatment in Therapy

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), attending therapy at first can be an uncomfortable process. Not everyone is willing to open up about their mental health concerns, let alone provide a professional with their medical history. Although loved ones such as family or friends, professionals, and the community as a whole can provide support while in recovery, it may not be as effective for some individuals. When an individual has an animal as a companion while in therapy, their mood tends to lighten up. 

For instance, a service dog, also known as a therapy dog, may provide the healing power needed for men facing challenges with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Knowing triggers can be problematic, it is common for some individuals to suppress their emotions by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. This can often worsen one’s condition. Depending on the facility chosen, discussing the value of animal-assisted treatment may be a wise choice when moving forward in recovery. 

Benefits of Pet-Friendly Treatment in Recovery

Participating in pet-friendly treatment can provide many different benefits to individuals having difficulty coping with their condition. Anyone of any age, gender, or demographic may find animal-assisted therapy to be quite advantageous in their recovery process. Based on the aforementioned VA study, research has confirmed that pets and other companion animals enrich many individuals’ lives. An individual may find working alongside a dog or other animal may bring great comfort during a tough hardship. Having an animal at one’s side may increase one’s chance of being accompanied by other individuals. This may help one make new connections while in recovery. Several other benefits might include: 

  • Improved physical health for a better mood
  • Better focus, as an animal may help one feel content
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased ability to care for oneself
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Provided motivation