Animals Helping Patients in Recovery

A wide variety of drug and alcohol treatment programs exist, and each uses different techniques to help someone on their road to recovery. Some people are finding great success with therapy that uses the assistance of animals.

Animals Helping Humans

Animals have been used to help humans for centuries. They have been used in hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages to provide companionship and even healing to humans throughout the years. The companionship that animals like dogs, cats, and horses provide is beneficial physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Animals can help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and decrease anger and stress. Animals are often content to sit at a sick or emotionally distressed individual's side, which produces a calming effect on the recovering patient.

Individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction find that the presence of an animal nearby can give them something new to focus on during the rehab process. Animals can help these patients open up during counseling sessions, and feel more at ease when talking about their underlying issues.

Some animal therapy programs require the patient in recovery to care for the animals, creating an environment for learning responsibility and kindness for other living creatures. Taking care of animals gets patients up and moving around, which also helps with the recovery process.

Addiction Therapy Animals

In general, animals that are used for therapy are specifically trained for such a job. Sometimes the pets are rescued from shelters, or they may come from a long family line of therapy animals. These pets must be calm and obedient and willing to stay close and interact with patients. Dogs, cats, birds, and horses all make great therapy pets.

When a treatment program uses animals in therapy, counselors often see a bond form between patient and pet. Animals have been said to sense humans' emotions, and act as a silent support system for the human. The bond between humans and animals is not entirely understood, but for many, it is a very real experience. Patients who are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction often find animal therapy to be a very beneficial tool to help them get through the challenges of recovery.