How Pets Can Help You Avoid Relapse
In the United States, the rate of substance use disorder relapse is as high as 60 percent, according to a survey from JAMA as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dogs and cats, and perhaps other pets, can help to minimize some of the factors that commonly lead to relapse.
Pet therapy can change your outlook on life.
Could a pet help to get rid of your biggest fears in addiction recovery?
Animals Help Calm the Mind
One of the best reasons to incorporate pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, into your recovery process is because pets are soothing. Simply having a pet to hold, love, and care for can help to calm the mind. If you’re dealing with a rough day, spending time with a pet can help to improve that negative state of being by releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones in the brain.
Pets Make You Stay Active
Good exercise is important to everyday health. Studies also indicate that exercise can help you to abstain from drug and alcohol use. With a dog, for example, you’ll be more likely to go on daily walks. Pets also like to play, engaging in one-on-one activity with you. Exercise improves your brain’s cognitive function while also reducing the frequency of negative thought patterns.
Your Pet Is Always Listening
Even if your pet is not the cuddling type, he or she can offer an opportunity to talk. By opening up about your thoughts and feelings, even if no one other than your pet is in the room, you allow your mind to begin to process and deal with them.
While pets cannot give you feedback, they are also unable to judge you or limit your ability to speak openly and honestly with yourself. In some cases, this in itself may be enough to help you reach out to your support system.
Pets Help You to Build Self-Worth and Confidence
Incorporating a pet into your life means you’ll now have important responsibilities to another living creature. You have to feed it and care for its other needs each day. Over time, this teaches you responsibility, something that can be difficult to remember if you’ve dealt with substance abuse for a long time. You may also learn self-worth. While your pet is thriving, you can recognize that you’re contributing to their good health and wellbeing.
You Don’t Feel Lonely
The recovery process is a long one. Sometimes you will be alone without friends or family nearby. Other times, you need a whole new set of friends to help you move away from the negative lifestyle you were living. During that period, you may experience times of feeling alone and unimportant to others.
Having a pet can help minimize feelings of loneliness and isolation. While it’s common to feel alone in what you are experiencing, you don’t want to dwell on it. Your pet can help you overcome that.
Getting Outdoors Is Good for You and for Your Pet
Some people find hope and promise in being in nature during recovery. It opens the mind, helps you to gain new confidence, and allows you to get back to your roots. Some pets can encourage that experience. For example, riding a horse can give you a sense of freedom. In some ways, this sense of euphoria is much like the high you remember. Yet, it’s a healthy version.
Pets Help You Believe in Your Recovery
Take a moment to consider what your recovery will be like when you have someone to share it with. Having a pet gives your recovery meaning. You always have a responsibility to take care of. You always have a reason to go home. Most importantly, as you work to see yourself do well with your pet, you’ll see your future developing.
Pets are not everything—you still need to embrace counseling and your human support group. Yet, for many men and women dealing with recovery, pets fill an important place. They give you the ability to smile and enjoy key parts of your daily life. In many ways, those moments are enough to push aside thoughts of drug or alcohol relapse.
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