Anybody who has ever dealt with addiction will tell you how challenging it is to escape this horrible disease. The road to recovery is complex and requires much effort and willpower. And obviously, it is not something anyone can do alone. A lot of help is needed for someone to make a successful recovery. All these things are essential, from professionals at rehab centers and therapists to the support of your family and friends. But there is one more source of help that you may not have heard of. It comes from our wonderful furry companions, from our pets. We all know that pets are a great source of joy and can be very good for our mental health. But many people don’t know that pets can help their parents with addiction recovery. And that’s what we are going to explore in this article.
A Couple of Ways Pets can Help Their Parents with Addiction Recovery
We will first give you a list of ways dogs can assist you in your recovery, and then we will elaborate on each. On our list, there will be ways in which dogs can help you both mentally and physically. From giving you love and support to forcing you to exercise. You probably have heard some of these things, but some may come as a surprise. But one is inevitable, and you shouldn’t underestimate how much pets can help you with this issue. Even the experts at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center advise getting a pet as a support animal in these situations.
- Pets give unconditional love and support
- They help you socialize
- They teach you responsibility
- Help you stop overthinking
- Help you exercise and go back In shape
- Boost your confidence
- They make you happier
They Give You Love
Many addicts have strained relationships with their families, sometimes even nonexistent. And it can be heartbreaking leaving rehab and not having that family support around you. And while pets are not the same as humans, you would be surprised how much they can mean to someone in that situation. Pets have an incredible ability to make you feel loved and cared for. Both of those things are incredibly important when you are a recovering addict. Feeling abandoned and alone is one of the leading causes of people going back to their addictions. When you have a pet, you have a living thing that doesn’t judge you, loves you just the way you are, and won’t leave you no matter what. And that’s precisely the reassurance recovering addicts need to continue this challenging journey they are on.
Help you Socialize
As we previously said, many recovering addicts feel lonely and isolated. It’s hard for them to integrate into society again. They feel like they don’t belong with the rest of the people outside. A lot of it has to do with shame. They are embarrassed about their past and are scared that people will judge them. That’s where dogs can be beneficial.
Having a dog allows you to meet and talk to other people. For example, when you take your dog for a walk or a hike, you will meet other people doing the same thing. You can introduce yourself and talk about your pets. Or, going to the dog park, you can meet other dog owners and share some tips about caring for your dog. It is much easier to socialize again when you know you have a common topic with someone- your dogs. It may not seem like much, but building your social skills again takes time, and this is a good start.
Teaches You Responsibility
Pets make you responsible. You have to take care of all their needs, and you have to do it regularly. There are no free days. And this is incredibly important for a recovering addict. By having this responsibility, you are building your character again. You are proving to yourself and others that you can take care of another being and yourself as well. Commitment, discipline, and restraint go hand in hand. By caring for something else, you will see that you need to put that same level of care into yourself. When you wake up every morning and take your dog for a walk, feed them, take them to the vet and wash them, it makes you step up and grow.
It Takes the Focus Off of You
It is challenging for an addict to get outside their head. To stop overthinking and engaging in toxic thought patterns. We all know that when we have a lot of time on our hands, our minds tend to wander, and more often than not, we end up in unfavorable places. We circle back to things that we are ashamed of. And a lot of stigma and shame comes with being an addict. Dealing with that is a part of what you learn in rehab. But when you leave, there is always a risk that you will fall back into that negativity, or something will trigger it.
If you spend a lot of time alone or don’t have a job and something to take your mind off your addiction, that can be a significant risk. And that’s where having a pet becomes helpful. You have somebody else to focus on. A pet has needs you have to take care of—feeding, walking, cleaning. Not to mention how much joy you get from playing with your pets. All that stops you from overthinking and gives you something to look forward to.
Makes You Exercise
Having a healthy exercise routine is an excellent tool in fighting addiction. It’s because it keeps you both physically and mentally fit. But it can be hard to start sometimes. You need something to motivate you, and whom better to do that than your dog? As we all know, you must walk dogs at least twice daily. Because the same as people, dogs have to have an active exercise regime. A bigger dog is ideal for this situation because they need more exercise than smaller ones. You can quickly start getting into shape by going on brisk walks with your dog. And after a while, you can make it a bit more intense and go hiking or jogging with your furry friend.
Not only will you be responsible for walking your dog, but you will also get in shape. And the best part is you will have your best friend exercising with you.
Gives You Confidence
After you have dealt with something as complex and traumatic as an addiction, it is normal and expected that your confidence would be lower than it used to be. You might feel like you cannot make changes in your life and take steps forward into a better future for yourself. That can be very detrimental to your progress. You have to take action and reintegrate into society again. Eventually, you have to stand on your own two feet, find a job, make amends, etc. That can be a little hard when you don’t feel confident and inspired. But having a pet can help you with that.
Taking care of something other than yourself gives you a sense of purpose and usefulness. It builds your self-respect and confidence. You will think,” I can take care of my pet. What is the next step I can take? It’s an excellent boost for your self-esteem and precisely what you need to prepare for the next chapter in your recovery. And that is one of the many ways pets can help their owners with addiction recovery.
They Make you Happier
A study has shown that most people who adopt pets become happier immediately. That is because playing and cuddling with your pets is connected with a release of dopamine and serotonin. Those are two neurotransmitters that regulate persons feeling of pleasure and joy. And recovering addicts need that boost of happiness and joy in their lives. It is not uncommon that addicts also have to deal with depression and anxiety, and pets can tremendously influence that.
As you can see, there are many ways pets can help their owners with addiction recovery. They are there as emotional support; sometimes, they even replace your family. The best possible thing they can give you is unconditional love and loyalty. You know they won’t leave you, providing much-needed stability in a recovering addict’s life. Pets teach you responsibility and help you make connections with other people again. By taking care of them, you are also learning to care for yourself and become independent again. If you already have a pet, don’t underestimate how much that can help you recover. And if you don’t, you should consider going into a shelter and adopting a new little friend. It will change both of your lives.
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