Therapy Dogs Helpful In Addiction Rehabilitation
Medically reviewed byDr. Gerardo Sison
April 1, 2019
Science is finally confirming what people have known intuitively for years: therapy dogs help people physically, mentally, and emotionally. Pet-friendly rehab centers are growing in number and popularity across the nation. Though still in the minority, these centers utilize Animal-Assisted Therapy and Animal-Assisted Activities as a healing process.
A dog can pick you up when you’re feeling down, make you smile and laugh, and know exactly when you need a friend. Many rehabilitation centers have begun using therapy dogs during treatment to help patients feel calm and relaxed. Dogs provide an air of comfort, support, unquestionable love and companionship, and a nonjudgmental demeanor; which may be crucial to someone who is suffering from drug addiction.
When petting a dog, your heart rate slows and a sense of peace and calm flows over your body, which can help create a safe and warm feeling. Talking about experiences or being open and honest with your therapist can be difficult or unpleasant at times. In therapy, feeling relaxed can help you open up about your feelings and be more responsive in sessions. There are multiple ways a therapy dog can improve a patient’s experience in a rehabilitation center, including:
- Improving communication and socialization skills through gently caring for an animal
- Raising affection and happiness levels while playing with an animal
- Improve ability to express feelings while identifying how an animal may feel
- Reduce anxiety and fear while building a healthy bond with an animal
- Reintroduces patients to healthy relationships through companionship with an animal
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One of the greatest things to help with addiction is exercise. Both physical and mental healing can be gained from an exercise regimen. One of the simplest ways to exercise is to walk a dog. Walking or jogging with a therapy dog is a great way to make sure you get a workout every day while stimulating the dog as well. Sure, a dog can’t spot you during deadlifts, but a nice, long game of catch can be enough to help you while in active therapy.
Taking care of a dog during treatment can add a purpose and meaning to your stay. When a dog depends on you for love and care, you have to step up to the plate and be the person the dog needs. When struggling with drug addiction, the simple needs of taking care of a dog may seem like difficult processes. By learning to feed, play with, and care for a therapy dog, you can see yourself getting back to the average processes of everyday life.
Finding a Center Near You
If you need a dog-friendly rehabilitation center before you begin treatment, please reach out to us for more information. We can help you find a rehabilitation center that is right for both you and your best friend or one that offers in-house therapy dogs for comfort and assistance during your stay. Contact us at RehabCenter.net for help getting the treatment you deserve.