Are There Benefits to Having Your Pet with You in Recovery?


People love their pets.  A 2015 Harris poll showed that 95% of pet owners think of their animals as part of the family.  Pet owners have been shown to have lower blood pressure, a lower heart rate, and a lowered risk of heart disease than those who lack the companionship of a fur buddy.  As studies continue showing the many health benefits of pets, many clinics are opening their doors to animals.   Having your pet with you throughout treatment could make the road to recovery a little easier.  Check out these benefits of animal therapy in addiction treatment:

Pets help reduce stress:

Playing with or petting an animal has been shown to increase the blood levels of oxytocin.  Oxytocin is known as the “bonding hormone” and has been shown to decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol.  The increase of oxytocin and decrease of cortisol has been shown to lower blood pressure during times of mental stress.

Pets can make you happy:

Animals are great at making people smile.  The act of smiling has been shown to improve mood and boost the production of both serotonin and dopamine.  Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that are often affected by the use of drugs and alcohol.  

Pets can help build new relationships:

When a patient enters an addiction recovery program, they are often forced to let go of former relationships. Forming healthy and supportive relationships is imperative to the success of addiction recovery.  Pets can provide a great starting point for conversations with new people.  

Pets are great listeners:

Pets love to hear their owners talk and offer a non-judging ear to unload your problems.  By talking to pets, patients are able to practice having difficult conversations without worrying about the criticisms of other people.  Studies have shown that the simple act of talking about your problems can be therapeutic even if the conversation is one-sided.

Pets provide unconditional love:

While humans can also provide unconditional love, it may sometimes lead to enabling which can make recovering from an addiction even more difficult.  Pets cannot enable your addiction but will love you in spite of it.

Pets can help you to exercise more:

Exercise has been shown to aid in addiction recovery by offering an outlet for built up energy and acting as a distraction from cravings.  Pets make the perfect exercise partner.  They are always excited to join you and will never make up an excuse to skip a walk or run.  


Lakehouse Recovery Center welcomes men and women and their pets to our residential treatment program for addiction and alcoholism recovery. Call us today for information our programs and 12 month aftercare:  877.762.3707


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