Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on July 15, 2019.
Pets have a way of helping with recovery from drug addiction. They can help you stop thinking about your pain and shift your focus to developing your relationship with your four-legged friend. During the stage in addiction recovery when your old fears and anxieties are being conquered, having a pet is a great way to improve the healing process.
Here are some benefits you'll gain thanks to a pet during this vital recovery phase.
Interacting with animals has a calming effect on the mind. When you’re under a great deal of stress and frustration, you need all the help you can possibly get. Spending time with pets can calm your nerves and transform your negative feelings into positive ones, which can enable you to relax while improving your mood.
Apart from improving your emotional state, spending time with a dog can increase the release of oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is a chemical released by the brain that affects the way children create a bond with their mothers.
In a study conducted by a Japanese researcher, Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University in Japan, it was discovered that the level of oxytocin in pet owners who looked into their pet’s eyes for a couple of minutes was significantly higher than in those who did not. In other words, you can develop a powerful bond that has a profound impact on your health by spending time looking into your dog’s eyes. This process will also help you feel better connected to others and eventually develop a more fulfilling life.
Pets love you the way you are. They don't know that you’re just recovering from an addiction, and they won't judge you. This love can have a profound effect on your self-esteem and ability to develop better self-control.
Because you won't feel ashamed or condemned, it’ll be easier to open up about your challenges during pet therapy. Your self-confidence can also increase steadily, and you can develop more trust in your own ability to achieve sobriety.
Keeping pets provides a greater sense of responsibility. If you have several cats, dogs or horses, you won’t want to indulge in drug use when you know it will affect your ability to take good care of them. You'll know they depend on you, so you’ll develop a selfless attitude that allows you to abandon your old habits and develop the capacity for self-control.
Owning a pet will motivate you to become more physically active. Dogs have to take walks, and you need to let your horse run to stay healthy. As a result, you’ll need to spend at least an hour or more outdoors per day. As your physical activities increase, your brain will release more endorphins. Endorphins are called "feel good" chemicals because they make you feel "high" for a while.
Contact Diamond House Detox to take advantage of our treatment programs in a certified facility with medical providers. We offer incidental medical services as well as injectable medications when necessary, so you won't have to leave the comfort of our facility if you need injections for medical reasons. Reach out now to learn more about pet therapy and get started with other aspects of your addiction recovery.