Therapeutic Benefits of Having Therapy Dog in Sobriety
Living in sobriety can be fun and fulfilling after struggling with drug addiction. Statistics show that between 40 and 60 percent of the people who complete detox and rehabilitation programs often relapse, and you do not wish to be part of this cohort.
Fortunately, you can be among the statistics that overcome addiction and leads a drug-free rewarding life where you can enjoy the benefits of exercising sobriety.
So, how can you maintain sobriety in this tempting environment? While this is an open-ended question with many answers, this article will cover emotional support animals to help you feel mentally and physically stable during stressful life events. We shall focus on emotional support dogs.
What Is the Difference Between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs?
Enrolling in a rehab program is often a difficult decision for most people. Physically and mentally disable addicts find it challenging to adjust to a facility that does not allow emotional support dogs and services dogs. For this reason, different rehabilitation centers allow these human-friendly pets on a case-by-case analysis.
People with disabilities depend on animals to perform essential tasks in their daily lives. Whether in public space or distracting the surrounding, service dogs comply with commands always. Provisions in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) allow people with disabilities to go with their dogs to the American Addiction Centers’ treatment and healthcare facilities. Service dog often aid owners navigate daily tasks such as:
- Directing the visually impaired
- Signaling the deaf
- Retrieving different items for those with mobility impairments
- Identifying and alerting owners of imminent danger
- Warning the surrounding people about situations such as seizures and cardiac arrest.
Emotional Support Dogs
They belong to a group of Emotional support animals (ESAs) that provide companionship to individuals with mental health disorders. Individuals with extreme conditions such as bipolar disorder and PTSD. However, unlike service dogs, regulations under the Rehab Act and FHA (Fair Housing Act) restrict where ESA remains allowed.
This growing field in therapy involves incorporating dogs into an addict’s treatment and recovery program. This goal-oriented pet therapy involves specially trained animals. Animal behaviorists and veterinary behaviorists remain pivotal in recommending animals used in Animal-assisted therapy (AAT).
The dog remains the most popular AAT animal used widely because of its intelligence, friendliness, and ease-to-train.
Who Certifies Therapy Dogs?
While it may be challenging to get your dog certified for therapy, the internet abounds with organizations that can help you with this process. Such bodies hire professionals to train animals and provide the final certification to physically healthy and properly treated dogs. You can take your dog to the following organizations:
- The Good Dog Foundation
- Pet Partners
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs
- Therapy Dogs International
- American Kennel Club.
Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Sobriety
While therapy dogs prove effective in providing benefits to addicts during the addiction and recovery process, they also remain pivotal in helping one maintain their sobriety. Here is what a therapy dog can offer to a person hoping to full benefit for sobriety:
Being man’s best friend, dogs remain the best companion for a person in sobriety. While substance use disorders (SUD) symptoms such as isolation may follow you into sobriety, you will need a friend who helps you from relapsing. Those who cannot make new friends after battling addiction find the dogs a great companion in life.
Training alone during sobriety may be challenging. However, having an exercise partner, a therapy dog will enhance your playtime experience. Enjoying the health benefits of exercising may come during daytime catch games with your dog or quiet evening walks with your therapy dog.
3. Stress Relief
Factors that instigate addiction relapse include stress. However, having a therapy dog around can be an excellent stress reliever. One can also enjoy anxiety relief by stroking a dog. When you stare into a dog’s eyes, the body releases an attachment hormone known as oxytocin, which is valuable in one’s mental wellness. In general, being around a dog can help decrease your body’s cortisol level. Besides, the dog increases the good-feeling hormones they can help reduce the risk of relapse.
4. Providing Hope
Individuals in sobriety need a renewed hope to help them maintain healthy habits and re-learn social skills. Having a therapy dog around can help a person stay focused in contributing positively to society’s development. However, if you cannot adopt a dog to assist you in sobriety, you can volunteer in an animal shelter near your home. Animal shelter therapy dogs can also offer similar benefits to those you get from purchasing one. Dogs can provide a sense of perspective in life.
5. Sense of responsibility
Addicts often lose a sense of responsibility when characterized by poor hygiene practices and involvement in high-risk activities. However, having a dog during sobriety can help boost your level of accountability in life. Personal responsibility for your therapy dog can provide you a feeling of fulfillment. Having a dog is analogous to being with your child. Dogs require attention such as grooming, meals, and walks like children. Therefore, you would never wish to disappoint your therapy dog by relapsing.
Do You Need A Special Type of Therapy dog in Sobriety?
You may wonder if there exist special dogs best suited for sobriety therapy. The truth is that any dog can be used in animal-assisted therapy. However, a good dog must exhibit a personality to master skills such as obedience. Common breeds that master skills include the following:
- A German Shepherd
- A Greyhound
- The poodle
- The Labrador retriever
- French Bulldog.
Recover from Addiction and Live in Sobriety With your AAT Dog Today!
Understanding the importance of a therapy dog in sobriety is essential. As you finish your recovery journey at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center, aim to adopt or buy a therapy dog. This human companion will help you reap benefits such as developing a sense of responsibility and living a stress-free sober life. Our Unique treatment plan includes properly customized steps to help you into sobriety. Learn more about our programs or get more information about therapy dogs, contact us today!