Canine Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on June 2, 2020.

Animals can bring out the best in us. Petting a friendly pup and caring for its needs produces a deep sense of joy and relaxation — and many psychologists and behavioral specialists agree.
Dogs are often used as a tool in conjunction with a variety of therapies, including programs for substance abuse treatment. For those who love animals, a sweet and loving four-legged friend can make the rehab experience that much more comfortable, leading to more positive outcomes and long-term recovery. Let's explore the benefits of canine therapy and how it can help those in recovery discover hope and healing.

The Benefits of Using Dogs in Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction recovery clinics can be highly charged environments. For those who have experienced trauma and heartbreak, it may be difficult to verbalize their emotions. Once they detox from drugs and alcohol, they try to sort out their feelings and learn new coping skills. Animal-assisted therapy has been used in the treatment of mental health disorders for decades and is now seen as an effective addition to traditional addiction recovery programs.

Dogs are completely accepting. They stand by us no matter what, becoming a warm and trustworthy friend. Spending time with a loving dog in pet therapy can serve as a healthy and productive outlet for your feelings. Plus, recovering alongside animals has a variety of benefits to the overall success of your sobriety journey.

Puts Those in Recovery at Ease

Dogs are used in therapy because they help people relax and minimize stress while also offering a sense of safety and unconditional love. This sort of acceptance may be foreign to someone who has struggled with drugs or alcohol. The simple presence of a dog can transform a recovery treatment clinic into a warm and welcoming environment, making the experience easier to manage.

Helps With Communication

After years of struggling with addiction, many people find it difficult to engage fully in the therapeutic process. Perhaps there's a lot of trauma and stress in their past or they may be embarrassed and hesitant to talk about their substance abuse.

Communication is a crucial part of getting the most out of recovery. A dog is an incredible tool that helps people open up and verbalize their feelings. These furry animals boost a person's confidence and self-esteem so that they have a more positive attitude and motivation toward their recovery program.

Distracts From Triggers and Cravings

Triggers and cravings are two of the biggest risks to sobriety. Cravings can remain intense, even after drugs or alcohol are out of your system. Triggers like stress, anxiety or anger can make you feel like substance use is the only answer. While dogs are not a magical cure, they serve as a source of distraction, helping keep cravings and triggers at bay so you can focus on your recovery.

Learn More About Addiction Treatment Options

At Diamond House Detox, we believe in taking a holistic and individualized approach to recovery. While our techniques are focused on evidence-based treatment, we also support the effectiveness of other therapeutic options, such as animal-assisted therapy.

If you are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, we want to help. Contact us today to learn more about our residential treatment program in Northern California.