With addiction, many obstacles can present themselves and deter someone from entering treatment. From a lack of insurance to leaving work indefinitely, there are many reasons why someone with an addiction will try to avoid entering treatment. Another one of those reasons can be their pets.
In American culture, we put an extraordinarily high value on our pets, and for good reason. Our pets are more than just pets; they are part of the family.
The process of addiction treatment is not easy; it’s often a challenging and less than desirable journey that involves discomfort, both physical and emotional. The entire process requires taking a look at yourself in the mirror and discovering what led to substance abuse.
A survey released by the Humane Society of the United States notes that 39 percent of households have at least one dog, and another 33 percent have at least one cat. Pet owners look to these members of their family for unconditional love and understanding without judgment. The act of holding an animal can increase your sense of well-being and make you feel more comfortable in your life.
In fact, studies from Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine indicate many positive factors that animals offer for their owner. These can range from lowering blood pressure, increasing cardiovascular health, helping people to live in the moment, fulfilling the human need for touch, improving self-esteem, and making us laugh.
Animals are used in a variety of ways to reduce anxiety, and one of those ways is airport therapy dogs. Many airports across the country have implemented airport therapy dogs to help reduce the stresses that come with the hustle and bustle of travel. Therapy dogs are also used to treat those struggling with anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is common practice for soldiers who are returning from war to be linked with a therapy animal to help them get their anxiety under control. With all of the benefits these animals provide, they become an integral part of our lives, and the thought of leaving them to enter into treatment may be an objection that cannot be overcome.
Those who struggle with substance abuse may worry that nobody is there to take care of their animal if they are to check themselves into treatment. If you love your pet enough to let them deter you from rehab, there is one thing to take into consideration.
Imagine their life if you were to injure yourself while using, or worse, succumb to a deadly overdose and leave them alone. Your pet could lose you forever, and if you are struggling with an addiction, you must reach out for the proper help. Let’s take a look at what addiction is, and if treatment centers will allow your four-legged family members to join you in the experience.
Addiction is a complex brain disease that is manifested through compulsive substance use despite the harmful consequences. People who struggle with the disease often feel an overwhelming desire to focus on using specific substance(s) such as alcohol or drugs to the point where it consumes their lives. They will continue to use the substances despite any problems that may arise. Individuals with a substance use disorder have distorted thinking, behavior, and body functions. The continued consumption of these substances results in the brain rewiring that is responsible for the intense cravings.
Drugs and alcohol can cause harmful changes in how the brain functions and the changes last well after the immediate effects of drug use. The intoxication portion of drugs is considered the intense pleasure, calm, and increased sense caused by drug use, and these vary according to the drug. Over time, however, using drugs and/or alcohol will cause one to build up a tolerance, which will require the person to use more of a substantial amount of the substance to feel the initial effects of using it.
Individuals with addictive disorders may be aware of the problem, but they will not have the power to stop using on their own. Addiction can also cause health problems, and issues at work and with family members or friends. The misuse of drugs is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death. Mental illness is a common underlying factor when it comes to addiction, and addiction can exacerbate the symptoms of a mental disorder.
Drug addiction has many avenues in which it can be treated, but someone who is using drugs cannot stop and miraculously be cured. Most who enter into treatment require long-term or repeated care to stop using entirely and recover their lives. Addiction treatment must achieve three goals: stop using drugs, stay drug-free, and be productive with family, work, and society as a whole. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists its principles of effective treatment, which include:
Those who complete the entire continuum of care will experience much higher rates of success than those who attend only detox or spend less time in treatment than their clinicians recommend. Now that we understand addiction and what is necessary for someone to remain sober for the long term, the question that remains to be answered is can you take your pet to rehab?
The short answer is yes. Several facilities throughout the country offer admittance to your four-legged friend during this overwhelming journey you’re about to embark on. People who are in the throes of active addiction can be judged harshly by others. Friends or family may not speak with you because you stole from them to support a habit, but the benefit of having an animal in recovery is the source of unconditional love they can provide.
A dog will show approval to someone, even if the person is viewed as less by the important people in their lives. The substance user eventually reaches a point where fulfilling their own needs for drugs is more important than people in their lives. Animal therapy contributes to restoring feelings of empathy to the client. It will allow them to relearn the value of having goodwill and being selfless to other people.
Achieving sobriety is a stressful time for those who are going through the continuum of care, and having a pet around can make a significant difference in early recovery. Pet ownership studies have shown the value of having a pet, and starting treatment with your pet can ensure that you have more incentive to sober up and live drug-free. Facilities that offer this service have staff members who understand what an integral part of the family your pet is and that they should be part of your treatment journey.
If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, and have been concerned about leaving your pet to complete treatment, it is time to overcome this objection and seek the help you need. As mentioned earlier, it would be more traumatic to your pet if they lost you to drug addiction. Get the help you deserve today.
Don’t let your pet be a barrier to entering into treatment and live with addiction. It is possible to live outside of addiction and have your pet come along with you. Maryland House Detox will help you and find a treatment center that will allow your pet to be a part of your recovery journey.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.southbostonanimalhospital.com/blog/8-ways-pets-relieve-stress
Ending Pet Homelessness. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.humanesociety.org/all-our-fights/ending-pet-homelessness