Pet Therapy: Interacting with Animals in Addiction Recovery

Pet Therapy Can interacting with animals make a difference in recovery from a substance use disorder

Pets can be a source of tremendous comfort to people. When people feel loved and supported, they are more likely to recover from a substance use disorder. That’s why pet therapy programs exist – they offer pet owners an opportunity to provide care, compassion, and love to those who need it most. In today’s article, we will explore the benefits of pet therapy in recovery and how program participants may benefit from the experience.

What is Pet Therapy?

Pet therapy, sometimes referred to as animal-assisted therapy, is a form of therapy where trained animals visit patients in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other facilities. These visits are intended to provide comfort, bolster confidence, reduce anxiety and inspire bravery. Pet therapy is commonly used in treatment centers and hospitals as a form of companionship and comfort. But it can also be a great resource for your own mental health and well-being at home.

Benefits of Pet Therapy in Recovery

There are many ways that pet therapy may benefit participants in recovery, but some of the most common include:

Greater Emotional Well-Being 

Animals can bring a great deal of joy and comfort to people, helping to improve their emotional well-being and lower stress levels. In a setting where people are often facing difficult issues and dealing with intense emotions, the ability to provide comfort and joy may be particularly beneficial.

Increased Socialization

Socialization is an important part of recovery. It helps with feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are common among people in recovery. Animals are great for providing opportunities for socialization and can make these interactions less stressful. 

Higher Self-Esteem 

Animals often have a very positive and accepting view of the world. They do not pass judgment, and they do not expect perfection. It is likely that animals would have a very positive view of people in recovery, without any preconceived notions or judgments. This can help with self-esteem issues common in people in recovery. 

Better Physical Health 

Many studies have shown that people who have pets have lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and rates of diabetes. In addition, pets may provide an opportunity for more exercise, which can also help with physical health. 

Improved Mental Health

Participating in pet therapy may help people with mental health issues like depression and anxiety, with some studies linking pet therapy to lower rates of suicidal thoughts.

How Does Pet Therapy Benefit Participants?

All of the benefits mentioned above can help people in recovery. However, specific benefits may be related to a person’s situation and mental health needs. For example, someone who has a hard time with socialization may benefit most from a friendly and accepting pet. Someone who is depressed may benefit from the ability to experience unconditional love and support in the form of a pet. Those who have difficulty interacting with people or have anxiety may find that interacting with a pet is less stressful. Pets can also be useful in helping people practice and improve their social skills, which may be helpful in the pet therapy setting or when interacting with others outside of therapy.

Is Pet Therapy Right for You?

Pet therapy may be a good choice for people in recovery. However, it is important to keep in mind that participating in pet therapy does not replace other mental health and support services. Rather, it is one more way to engage in your own recovery. If you are interested in trying pet therapy, check with your treatment provider to see if there is a pet therapy program available. You can also visit websites like Pet Partners to see if there are local pet therapy groups in your area. People in recovery who want to try pet therapy may want to think about the kind of pet that is best for them. Ideally, you would want a pet that is calm and doesn’t have high needs. You would also want a pet that is friendly with people and other animals.

Potential Challenges of Pet Therapy

Like any form of therapy, pet therapy can have potential challenges. These may include: 


Some pet therapy programs charge a fee. This may be a challenge for people in recovery who are working to manage their finances carefully. 


Some pet therapy programs are one-time events, while others are weekly or even daily commitments. This may be too demanding for some people in recovery, who may have other priorities like school or treatment that take precedence. 


Some people in recovery may be concerned about how safe it is to have animals around. This is a valid concern and some people may be in better situations to have pets than others. However, pet therapy programs generally want to keep everyone safe and use proper safety procedures.


This may sound silly, but it’s an important consideration. Some people may find that certain types of pets work better for them than others. It’s helpful to think about what might work best for you and your own situation.

Eudaimonia Can Help Keep You on the Path to Recovery

Eudaimonia offers excellent recovery programs with tailored care. In these programs, individuals can develop positive coping skills with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety. Eudaimonia even provides tailored care based on gender and orientation. We also include supervised, short-term housing to provide support for newly sober individuals. But no matter where you are in your recovery, Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes can provide support every step of the way. We have facilities for sober living in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs ready to assist you in living your sober lifestyle. Call Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes at (888) 424 – 4029 for more information on the sober living process and current room availability.

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