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How Pets Can Help the Recovery Process

Animals are a great source of comfort for people in recovery. For anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, a breakup, or a period of sorrow, they know that an animal is an invaluable source of support, stability, structure and accountability.

Similarly, animals provide support and unconditional love to those working to get sober or moving through recovery. Oftentimes, those in early sobriety or rough patches of recovery experience feelings of self-loathing and thoughts that they are unlovable. An animal is warm, kind and never judgmental. The calm companionship of a furry buddy during dark times can be lifesaving.

Animals provide stability and consistency.

Unlike relationships or jobs, animals don’t change how they feel from day to day. A dog will not take a bad mood out on its owner. Recovery is greatly bolstered by routine and being prepared for what may happen. A dog isn’t going to fire someone for being late or break up with someone for needing to focus their efforts on their recovery. A dog is waiting by the door every day, with a wag in its tail. Knowing what to expect each day from an animal may begin to instill a sense of routine and the belief that life is manageable.

Animals also create the need for accountability.

It’s important to feed an animal, take them out for a walk, and bathe them with regularity. Depression is a frequent occurrence for those newly sober and in different phases of recovery. Life may feel confusing or hopeless. Having to take care of a pet, even if they don’t care about themselves, may mean the difference of living to see another day or not.

Taking on a pet is a huge responsibility.

Some alcoholics or addicts may not be ready to make that commitment. However, some may have an animal that has been with them for years, and as they move into sobriety, it will offer that love, stability, support, and structure mentioned above. For others, an animal is a wonderful friend to adopt when the time is right.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or addiction, please seek help. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Pat Moore Foundation. If you are seeking a furry friend to support you in rough times, visit your local animal shelter!

Image: Flickr