If you’re trying to beat your addiction by going to a drug rehab, you may be met with the obstacle of what to do with your pet. There’s something calming about the presence of a pet. They aren’t judgemental, they love unconditionally, and pets give us purpose. Your pet is no doubt an important part of your life, and can be just as important a part of your recovery. Leaving them behind might not be an option, and luckily some rehabs allow pets.
From cats to dogs, pets are our little companions, and they’ll always be there when the going gets tough. People are able to get the emotional support from their pets that is so often needed for a healthy recovery. There is actually scientific evidence supporting the idea that petting a dog or watching a fish helps you relax by lowering your heart rate.
Finding the right rehab center for you and your pet can be made easier with the help of professionals who specialize in locating rehab centers based on your needs.
Taking Your Pet To A Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center
Rehabs that allow pets aren’t always easy to find, but fortunately for you, there are people who specialize in just that. Pets can be beneficial to your well-being and can even help you adapt, or become more willing to take part in certain behavioral therapy programs. From these therapies alone you can recover from emotional, mental, and substance use disorders. Benefits of having a pet while in recovery can also include:
- Building Trust: If you’re suffering from a mental disorder or substance use disorder, you may have a hard time interacting with and trusting others. Bringing a pet companion into rehab “influences social interaction between humans and related factors important in this respect, such as trust, empathy, aggression, and a positive mood” (U.S. National Library of Medicine – NLM).
- Learning Behaviors: When somebody uses drugs or alcohol to cope with pain, this is considered an unhealthy behavior. Or if somebody doesn’t trust others because of a past experience or a traumatic event, and therefore uses drugs or alcohol to try to forget; this too is considered an unhealthy behavior. These behaviors can be replaced, and there’s acknowledgement in the therapeutic communities that having your companion with you can be a major benefit to replacing negative behaviors.
- Being Honest: Overcoming an addiction in rehab therapy isn’t easy. You may have to get honest about things that you’re ashamed of, or revisit behaviors and traumatic events that in the past, have made you want to drink or use drugs. Having a pet companion with you can help you stay honest about your drug use by helping you to others.
- Avoiding Further Consequences: National Institute on Drug Abuse has characterized drug addiction as “intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences.” Rehab centers want to help you avoid negative consequences, and will go to great lengths to get you the help you need—whether that means helping you out with childcare, or pet care while you’re in treatment.
Advantages Of A Pet In Rehab
Over the past decade or so, scientists have been researching the advantages of therapy animals. They’ve found that there are a lot of positive effects that human and animal interactions bring to rehab treatment. The psychological evidence is that bringing a pet into therapy can improve a person’s “immune system functioning and pain management; increased trustworthiness of and trust toward other persons; reduced aggression; enhanced empathy and improved learning” (NLM).
Giving up your pet when going to treatment “may have a detrimental, rather than beneficial, effect on their overall health. In many instances, human health professionals can contribute to the welfare of their patients by encouraging them to maintain bonds with their pets, even in the face of serious illnesses and other challenges” (National Parks Service).
There’s further evidence that therapy animals can help a person who’s suffering from co-occurring disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder with addiction, or even anxiety and addiction. At the end of the day, pets have been proven to help treat the symptoms of drug abuse, and some of the benefits include (NLM):
- Social attention
- Social behavior
- Interpersonal interactions
- Helps with mood
- Stress-related parameters such as cortisol
- Improves heart rate
- Improves blood pressure
- Fear and anxiety
- Mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular diseases
Who Takes Care Of My Pet While I’m In Rehab?
It’s important to remember that unless the rehab center has a separate resort for pets, you may still be responsible for taking care of them. Also note that pet-friendly rehab might not allow a pet to be included in every-day therapy, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to stay in your room with you.
What If I Can’t Bring My Pet To Rehab?
Not all rehab centers allow animals, and they have legitimate reasons for their no pet policies, which can be anything from allergies, to liabilities, or even licensing. Another deciding factor is the cost or the location of a pet-friendly rehab center, but there may be help in both of these areas—many health insurance companies can help cover rehab costs.
A long-term inpatient treatment is an instance where your pet might not be able to stay with you the whole time, however, they’ll may be able to come visit you. Sober living homes may have a harder time allowing pets as well, because rooms are often shared between a group of people. On the plus side, they are usually willing to work with you and try to help you locate a nearby pet resort. Even if you aren’t sharing a room with your pet, there are still advantages to getting to see your them while you’re in rehab.
Even though pet friendly rehabs are becoming more popular, they aren’t always within reach. A lot of people opt out of going to rehab because they can’t take their pet, but there is almost always another way to manage this hurdle. Here are some other potential ideas to take care of your pet while you go to rehab:
- Pet Resorts: A lot of the time a rehab center can refer you to a nearby pet resort.
- Pet Sitter: There are countless people who are willing to watch your pet while you’re in rehab. It’s like you’re going on vacation – some people will even do it to return a favor.
- Pet-Handler: Some rehab centers have on-site pet boarding where your pet will get to relax and even come to see you from time to time.
- Family Member: There is almost always a feeling that we’ve burned bridges with family members with years of drug abuse, and neglect, but more often than not family members will do whatever it takes to help you beat addiction. Whether it means helping out with your housework, or watching your pet, you’re almost always in the best of hands with family.
- Scheduled Visits: Even if you aren’t allowed to have your pet stay on site with you, some rehab centers will allow you to take walks, exercise, or play with your cat or dog during down time. Pets are part of the family, and there is no denying that they can bring us a lot of joy; even in the hardest of times.
Find A Rehab Center That Works With You And Your Pet
If you’re interested in finding a pet-friendly drug rehab, contact DrugRehab.org today.Taking care of your loved ones, and pets is a number one priority before rehab, and we get that. Our addiction specialists can tell you about the best treatment options for you and your pet, and get you started on your recovery journey.