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Staying Clean with the Help of Your “Best Friend”

We can all agree that animals are therapeutic. They provide a calming energy and unconditional love. Animals, especially dogs, provide companionship and love.

Psychiatric service dogs are specifically trained to aid a person with a mental disability or disorder. Service dogs are now also being used in the treatment for those struggling with addiction. Bonding with an animal is a great way for an addict to keep their mind off triggers or stressful situations. Taking care of a pet can keep them fulfilled. 

According to an article, Dogs help restore the brain’s neurochemical pathways to their original modes of functioning. Their powerful effects on the brain raise levels of dopamine, the same neurotransmitter that drugs like amphetamines and cocaine boost. Interacting with dogs, then, can help an addict find a healthy, sustainable way to reach a positive emotional state. Over time, these kinds of positive substitutes can drastically reduce dependence on drugs. Dogs also increase oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin, all of which are “essential to our sense of well-being.” People often turn to drugs because they feel that something is missing from their lives; dogs can provide that missing link.

Therapy dogs brought into treatment centers, also help patients who are missing their pets at home. It’s often very difficult for someone in treatment to be separated from their best friend when emotionally, they need them the most. 

Some treatment centers even allow patients to bring in their own pets which can be a wonderful tool in their recovery. Therapists may also bring the pets into individual therapy or group sessions. A therapy dog also provides a calming influence and brightens up the day for staff at treatment facilities dealing with a high-stress job. 

Dogs allow patients to express empathy and create healthy bonds with another living being. A therapy dog can also: ease anxiety, boost confidence, curb depression and reduce loneliness, sadness, anger and social isolation. 

Addicts often feel isolated when on their road to recovery. They are dealing with an influx of emotions on a daily basis and often have to cut negative people and triggers out of their lives, which can make them feel lonely and isolated. Knowing their pet depends on them can also prevent relapse – they now have something else to think about rather than themselves.

Focusing on their pets’ happiness and well-being can give them a huge reason to stay clean.


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