How Companion Animals Can Assist With Addiction Recovery
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Cindy Aldridge is a freelance writer and dog lover. She started Ourdogfriends.org as a fun side project for herself and to educate pet owners and potential pet owners about how dogs can enrich our lives. She enjoys writing about dogs and pet ownership.
Animals are highly effective in helping humans cope with our emotions and afflictions, such as mental illnesses. Something as simple as touch, though taken for granted, can have profound benefits for those who are coping with everyday stress and anxiety to more complex illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and even for recovering addicts.
If you know someone who has a mental illness, or perhaps you have been diagnosed and treated for such symptoms, here’s how a pet may just be the cure you need.
Benefits of Pets for Mental Health
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pets have the ability to help quell loneliness, decrease depression and anxiety, and relieve blood pressure in humans. Pets even assist people in bonding with others. Though some claim to find relationships more accessible with pets than humans, some even consider pets to be part of their social circle.
Alzheimer’s patients were found to have less anxiety-ridden outbursts when in the company of an animal. Furthermore, elderly patients who suffer from depression, psychosis and dementia have been found to have a better quality and cognitive function over a period of time with a pet than without, according to Brightfocus.org.
Dogs, especially are in tuned to how human companions may be feeling. Emotions ranging from sadness to excitement can be sensed by a pet due to our tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Pets have a great sense of compassion and will always show you affection when you need it most.
Benefits of Pets for Recovering Addicts
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Dependency can affect every aspect of the user’s life, from finances, relational distress, which impacts emotional health. In some cases, these situations may even cause an addict to relapse. However, having a pet helps to boost moods in humans and see the bigger picture.
Animals help motivate us to smile. A pet such as a dog or horse encourages owners to become more active. Since animals are able to show emotional honesty, this serves as an example of how us humans could also benefit from such openness.
Additionally, pets provide unconditional love, which can help to repair self-confidence. Judgement and criticisms are non-existent in the company of a pet, thus allowing us to be our true selves and feel more accepted.
Incorporating a Pet Into Your Life
Pets take lots of care, particularly dogs, and choosing the right one will either add value to your life or stress, depending on your personality. If this is your first time as a pet owner, training may be required to learn your new pet’s temperament.
Additionally, maintenance costs for grooming, medicine, and other necessities will also need to be considered, as well as your living situation. The size of your pet in relation to your home also will play a role in the type of pet that you get. A small pet some as a hamster or guinea pig may suit you if you live in a tight space. However, a dog may require more room to roam free and play, especially if it’s an outdoor one.
More importantly, quality time is a big factor when considering becoming a pet owner. If you are barely home, then it may be challenging to interact with your pet often. Animals require quality time, but if you are busy, there are various daily activities that you can include your pet in to improve interaction, such as shared housework.
Relationships affect mental health in a significant way. Though finding the right treatment to cure certain ailments is ideal, one of the most effective tools is having a pet around. Pets are joyful creatures that show love and support without asking for much in return. However, if you impart unconditional love then you’ve found a friend for life