Pets & Recovery
Not only are pets cute and cuddly, but they can play an important role in recovery as well. Recovery can often bring on strong feelings of boredom or loneliness. Those in recovery may have difficulty finding new sober friends or activities they can enjoy without substances. In many cases, a pet can help fill the void, providing companionship and a sense of purpose.
Benefits of Having a Pet in Recovery
Studies have shown that pets can reduce stress by providing comfort, support, and companionship. Petting an animal can help diffuse anxiety and lower blood pressure. In addition, pets can also do the following:
If you are feeling lonely, having a pet is a great way to feel needed. You can choose a pet based on the amount of time you want to devote to its care. Dogs will demand more attention and time than lizards, cats more than fish, etc. No matter what kind of pet you have, it’s a pretty sure bet that it will be a good listener, nonjudgmental, and always pleased to see you.
Pets can improve your mood, which can help keep cravings at bay. Cravings tend to strike when emotions are high, and having a pet can give you a way to change the focus, calm your feelings, and lift your spirits.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Pets that require daily exercise are especially helpful, if you have the time to give them the exercise they need. Taking your dog (or cat!) for a walk or playing with them outside is not only fun but adds exercise into your daily routine. Exercising can help combat cravings and promote a healthier lifestyle for both you and your pet.
Give you a purpose.
Keeping a regular routine such as getting up early to let your pet outside or to feed them can add consistency to your day. Since pets require care and attention, this can give you a purpose and help keep you focused on your recovery.
Meet new people.
Pets can put you in situations where you meet other pet-friendly people. Whether it is a walk on a trail, a fun day at the dog park, or a local reptile show, pets can offer many opportunities to meet new people and make friends.
When Is the Right Time to Add a Pet?
Getting a pet right in early recovery is not always the best idea. A new pet is a big responsibility that should be taken seriously and planned for accordingly. A puppy, for example, will require a lot of care and training and can add extra stress.
If getting a pet of your own is not possible, there are other ways to enjoy animal companionship. You can volunteer at your local animal shelter to walk dogs or spend time petting the cats. It can feel rewarding to make a difference in the life of an animal.
You can also consider less-demanding pets, like reptiles, fish, hamsters, or mice.
We Are Here to Help
If you are struggling with an addiction, contact Mountain Laurel Recovery Center for help. We have a range of tools and resources to support you during recovery. We can tailor a treatment plan to meet your individual needs and goals. Our Pennsylvania addiction treatment program offers a full range of care for those with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. To find out more about what programs and services we can offer and how you can begin your journey of recovery, use our convenient online contact form.