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How Can Dogs Help People Fight Addiction-Related Anxiety?

By November 2, 2020 No Comments

We all suffer from normal anxiety from time to time. You might get anxious after getting into an interview room when looking for a job for the first time. A student may also get anxious when they are about to sit for a challenging exam. These are normal anxieties and often go away after some time, on their own.
Anxiety-related to alcohol addiction can be disastrous if proper treatment methods are not adopted. It is usually more intense and lasts for longer periods. Alcohol addiction and anxiety often go hand in hand. An individual may get addicted to alcohol as they seek to deal with anxiety, or still, they might develop anxiety as a result of alcohol addiction. One of the treatment methods that alcohol treatment centers have embraced and advise their patients to follow is having a dog whether he/she becomes an official service dog or not.

Anxiety can interfere with several areas of your life, such as your career and relationships. Dogs are intuitive and will give you excellent coping mechanisms as well as many other benefits to dog parenting. During alcohol rehabilitation, dogs are used to help patients deal with the anxiety that might arise from the treatment. Here are some of the ways in which they can help people fight addiction-related anxiety.

Dogs Come as a Necessary Distraction & Give a sense of purpose, structure/routine
When you are suffering from alcohol addiction (or any addiction for that matter), it is normal to keep thinking about your situation. You might be feeling sorry for yourself, worrying about how people think about you, or how to recover from the situation. Having a dog will force you to forget your problems for some time. It also gives you a sense of responsibility, knowing that they solely depend on you- being needed and contributing to the well being of another is a need being met. That alone boosts your mood and alleviates anxiety. Anxiety escalates even the tiniest of things. Something very minute will easily turn out to be a point of focus. Having a dog will help shift your attention from issues that would otherwise disturb you. Your dog will need to be fed, walked, cuddled, and groomed, leaving you with less time to worry. Caring for a pup can be such a great joy!

They Motivate a Person to Exercise- and Getting Moving is Key!
Whether you like it or not, your dog will inspire you to exercise. That simple walk you have with it can help reduce anxiety for several hours.  Even going for a run with your pup can help even if only in small bursts of sprinting!  Exercising will also divert your mind from thoughts that bring you anxiety. You don’t need to exercise for several hours. A 10-minute walk is enough. Studies have shown that exercising helps boost your mood and improve your concentration. It also helps reduce muscle tension in the body. Plus, regular exercise helps prevent the onset of other illnesses, such as high blood pressure.

They Give A Sense of Responsibility
Anxiety can make you feel unworthy in life. Having a dog makes you feel obligated (in a good way), as they depend on you for survival. Talking to your dog or cuddling it helps the body release oxytocin, a chemical that calms you and slows the heart rate. This helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and other mental related disorders.

Our Furry Friends Give Unconditional Love
When dealing with addiction and anxiety at the same time, you may lose some of your friends. Some may judge you and keep asking you questions. Feeling unloved is common, which only worsens the condition. A dog will love you regardless of how you feel or how others feel about you. Even if at some point you get overwhelmed and yell at them, they will forgive you quickly and continue to love you. If you are in your journey to recovery, the dog will motivate you not to give up. During alcohol rehabilitation, it will also keep you company.

Dogs Promote Social Connection
It is highly likely that you will meet people from your neighborhood as you take your dog for a walk or go to your local dog run. That helps you create a social connection and it helps your dog with their social connection as a pack animal. Anxiety and alcohol addiction can make you distance yourself from other people. Staying in isolation may only make anxiety worse. Associating with others will offer significant relief. You can share your problems with them, or have conversations that will distract you for a while.

Anxiety can be life-draining and can turn into more severe mental illnesses if not dealt with promptly. It doesn’t have to go away with medication only. Having a dog will also help you fight it. Some alcohol addiction treatment centers allow pets or have therapy dogs pay visits to help their patients better manage anxiety.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

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