Can pets help you overcome addiction? - The Malvern Observer

Can pets help you overcome addiction?

Malvern Editorial 1st Feb, 2024   0

There’s no doubt about it, we’re a nation of pet lovers and for the most part we really do understand the benefits of them, creating bonds that we’ll remember forever, as well as often giving us our daily exercise – wind, rain or shine.

Across Malvern we’re certainly lovers of animals, with the Ledbury and Malvern branch of Guide Dogs raising more money than ever before in 2023, while you only have to head into the Hills to see the number of people who benefit from their dogs.

However, did you know that pets can also have a big impact on people overcoming addiction. More people than ever before are seeking help from the likes of a drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre, with various forms of therapy suiting each type of individual. Animal therapy is becoming a more and more common option for people.

But why can pets and animals play such a pivotal role in addiction recovery?

The Provide Unconditional Companionship

Particularly dogs and cats offer a form of companionship that is completely unconditional and non-judgemental. This allows those who are struggling with addiction to be more comfortable in their company and that source of comfort can turn into support, particularly from the loyalty and affection pets can create.

What’s more, they are reliant upon you more so than you are on them, with the care a pet needs increasing the responsibility a person holds and increasing their sense of purpose which can be instrumental in keeping people on track throughout their recovery.

Routine and Structure

Routine and structure are such a big part of recovering from addiction, with professionals encouraging people to have stability in their lives, with things like the same wake-up and bed times, exercise routine and so on being a good way to form that structure. However, pets also naturally bring in a sense of routine with their owners.

They require walking at regular times across a day, as well as feeding, all fitting in to a daily schedule that can be good in taking time away from thinking about their recovery, while also getting the physical exercise they need in terms of walking the dog.

Increased Physical Activity

The increased exercise is really important, especially as part of a routine. Pets, and in particularly dogs, need walks, playtime and outdoor activities to promote their own health, which will has a knock-on effect for those going through addiction recovery.

It promotes a more active lifestyle and the endorphins released from that can not only be natural mood enhancers, but also provide the energy needed to tackle addiction recovery effectively.

Enhanced Emotional Wellbeing

As a result of this, the physical exercise will help reduce stress, anxiety and depression and really help with overall emotional wellbeing. That’s not just from exercise though, that’s also from the comfort, joy and love they bring, creating a fully supportive environment where individuals can really build their self-esteem and confidence, which are key traits in overcoming addiction.

Reduced Feelings of Isolation

Finally, isolation can be really detrimental when it comes to addiction recovery, even if a person is being visited regularly by friends or family. Those alone moments can be difficult, but a pet provides a consistent source of companionship which can have a huge impact on reducing loneliness and help people through what can often be emotionally turbulent times, leading them on a pathway to a happy, healthy and loved life.


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