man with his dog

Pet-Friendly Rehabs: Why They Can Help


Sober Recovery Expert Author

man with his dog

Animals tend to make people feel loved, even at the worst times in life. Pet owners know the feeling: nothing beats being met at the door by a furry friend wagging its tail out of excitement.

In recovery, people can also reap the benefits of having their pets with them in rehab. If you’re an animal-lover seeking to make the transition from a life of addiction to recovery, you don’t have to worry about leaving your pet behind. Consider pet-friendly rehabs as a viable treatment option as well as these emotional, physical and social benefits of having man’s best friend by your side.

There is no need to leave your beloved cat or dog at home when you attend rehab. Having your pet nearby can actually help support your treatment program in various ways.

Emotional Benefits

Everyone craves unconditional love, acceptance and companionship—including those in recovery. When entering a rehab with the seemingly arduous task of putting aside alcohol or drugs, the sense of having an ally is helpful. In fact, many therapists and addiction specialists speculate that the emotional benefits of pets within a rehab cannot be minimized. Having a pet that can accompany you without judgment while you’re learning to navigate life without substances offers great benefits. Plus, you won’t have to suffer through missing your darling animals during the rehab process.

Having a pet is also a chance to prove that you can take care of someone other than yourself. Many of those entering into recovery focus strictly on their personal needs and problems, which isn’t a bad thing. However, being responsible for a pet can help you get your mind off your own problems from time to time. You can shift focus towards giving your pet an abundance of love, which can generate positive feelings of accomplishment and joy. After all, being able to do something good for something outside yourself can get that spark of hope going.

Physical Benefits

Having an animal with you in rehab also helps you physically if you are willing to take some action. Some injured soldiers have been helped immensely by dogs during their physical therapy. There are also animal therapy groups that visit those in retirement homes and cancer wards for the sole purpose of bringing joy into the patients’ lives. At the same time, interacting with pets can help decrease blood pressure, promote movement and lower heart rates.

Some people are also more apt to exercise by walking their dog. Plenty of people who would normally rarely leave the house will actually get out and walk their dog once or twice per day. It’s great exercise for both the person and the pet.

Social Benefits

Pets within a rehab environment also allow patients to feel a sense of normalcy in a naturally uncomfortable situation. By having a dog or cat to keep in company with, a person may open up faster with others in a group setting as well as one-on-one with counselors. Also, having a pet makes for a wonderful conversation starter.

The clinical setting at a rehab can even benefit pets. The rehab community can provide the unconditional love and support that they crave and can also help relieve their boredom.

Not sure where to go? Browse our list of pet-friendly rehab centers. While it seems like a minor thought, having your pet by your side can be vital to a successful process.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our general directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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