Inpatient drug treatment is extremely effective, but it is rarely easy. Painful detoxifications, emotional counseling sessions, and stressful group discussions make inpatient rehab hard to endure for many addicts. Fortunately, there are clinics which use dogs, horses, and other therapy animals to help patients feel at ease while they recover. Some facilities even allow people to bring their own pets. Addicts who are feeling apprehensive about attending inpatient treatment should understand the ways therapy animals can help their recoveries.
The Long-Standing Use of Animal Assistance Therapy
The English have used animal therapy on people with mental illnesses for hundreds of years. During the 18th and 19th centuries, British mental wards often featured courtyards where patients could roam amidst small, domesticated animals. Psychologists found that these animals encouraged socialization and openness among people who were previously shut-off and unwilling to communicate with their counselors or peers. In more modern times, dogs and cats have been used to assist therapies with troubled children, prisoners, and elderly people.
Dogs for Drug Rehab
When it comes to addiction recovery, dogs have truly proven to be man’s best friend. Psychologists have found that therapy dogs’ unconditional love can help even the most isolated and antisocial addicts open up to their counselors. During group discussions, dogs have also shown uncanny abilities to recognize the participants who are feeling too anxious to participate. Their presence has helped facilitate amazing personal breakthroughs in these talks. Finally, petting and playing with dogs has been especially helpful for depressed patients to feel calm and ready to confront their addictive behaviors.
Horses can also provide love and companionship, but their main role during inpatient drug treatment is to teach addicts responsibility and accountability. With equine therapy, rehab patients are expected to care for a single horse for the duration of their treatment programs. Cleaning, grooming, and riding the horses teach addicts that their actions have repercussions, and that they are able to produce positive outcomes with effort and diligence. These activities can also be soothing in and of themselves, giving patients a relaxing break from more stressful therapies.
Helping Teens in Addiction Treatment
Therapy dogs have been particularly helpful in adolescent rehab clinics and boarding schools. Teens often feel isolated when they arrive at these places for inpatient treatment. They don’t know any of their peers, they fear judgment, and they may be sad to be away from their usual social circles. They often distrust adults, as well. The companionship of therapy dogs can make teens feel that they have friends to fall back on if others start to judge or belittle them – a feeling which has been essential in helping them connect with their counselors.
Allowing Patients to Bring Their Pets
Many clinics don’t have therapy animals of their own, but they allow addicts to bring their beloved pets to inpatient care. In fact, some rehab centers even have boarding and daycare facilities where dogs and cats can stay while patients receive treatment. Some addicts have extremely strong bonds with their animals, and these services can be instrumental in their abilities to feel at ease while they undergo intensive therapies.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs, don’t give up hope. Addiction is a life-consuming disease, but a clinical rehab program can help you get back on your feet. Call the number above for a toll-free consultation, and get the details on the inpatient drug treatment options available to you right now.