Recovery from addiction is a process and it takes time. You’ll have good days and bad days and everything in between. And along the way you’ll discover strategies for helping you prevent relapse and enjoy your substance-free lifestyle. One factor that can promote and support addiction recovery while helping to prevent relapse is having a pet. Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person (or maybe prefer another type of animal), having a pet can make a positive difference in your recovery.
Getting a pet is a major decision, however, so make sure if you do choose to get one, that it’s something you’re ready to handle both time-wise and financially. If you already have a dog or cat at home, you can take advantage of their presence in your life and view them as an even more integral part of your family. Having a pet can impact your recovery in many different ways:
- Pets give you something else to focus on
It can be easy to get caught up in your own thoughts and worries. With a pet around, you’re forced to focus on something else. Clear your mind by playing a game of catch, going for a walk, letting your cat chase around a laser pointer, or just relaxing and sitting together. When your dog barks or your cat has gone into hiding, it puts your attention onto something else. They also let you know when they’re ready to play and want you to pay attention to them. Your life becomes about more than just you – it’s about them too.
- Pets are nonjudgmental and have endless affection
Your dog or cat doesn’t care what your past is or question your decisions. They aren’t judging you for skipping out on a party and won’t share secrets you’ve told them. When you need to vent, they’ll just sit there and listen as a quiet companion. Dogs are also great at sensing emotional distress and know when you just need to cuddle with them or could use a lick on the face. All they want is to be loved and to make you happy. No matter what your day is like, or how you’re feeling, your dog or cat will stand loyally by your side. This can be very calming and reassuring.
- Pets can help reduce stress
Studies have found that the simple act of petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure. When you’re feeling stressed out or frustrated, take a break and spend time stroking your cat’s fur or scratching your dog’s ears. You can also take your dog out for a walk or a run or a trip to the park. Playing catch or watching them act silly can make you laugh and boost your mood. It’s hard to stay mad when you look into your dog’s loving eyes or watch them chasing a ball.
- Pets promote responsibility
Pets rely on you to care for them and meet their basic needs. This means that you have to remember to feed them and take them outside, schedule checkups with the veterinarian, brush them, and make sure they’re in overall good health. The decisions you make can affect them too, so it gives you reason to think twice. They can also provide you with a greater sense of purpose. You know that each day you will have certain responsibilities in caring for your pet. They believe in you and trust in you, so you should have confidence in yourself as well.
- Pets can give you a new perspective
Think about what it’s like when you’re around your pet. They tend to be happy all the time and responsive when you pay attention to them and want to play. They live in the moment and don’t hold grudges over things that happened in the past. They like to be active and social. All of these are things you can apply to your life as well. It’s amazing how many people will smile, say hi, or stop to talk to you about your dog when you go outside. It’s an instant topic for discussion, and since it’s your pet, you don’t have to worry about not knowing what to say.
Your pet can remind you to let the negatives roll off of you and to focus on the positives in life and the things that make you happy. They can encourage you to take a break and do something fun or to get active. A pet can also remind you not to overlook the simple pleasures in life.
Having a pet can be a great complement to your addiction recovery and give you motivation and encouragement to stick with it after completing an Orange County drug rehab program. Start your journey to recovery at Chapters Capistrano and equip yourself with the strategies you need to start a new chapter in your life and reduce your risk of relapse. Then you can implement what you’ve learned at home and have the added benefit of a pet to support your efforts. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 888-973-0230 to get started.