How a Pet Can Help With Addiction Recovery

two dogs laying together

Congratulations! You’ve taken that first step towards recovery. The journey ahead is hard, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go through it alone. Animal-assisted therapy has been around for a long time to provide comfort and love to those suffering from mental illnesses. However, using a pet for addiction recovery is a new idea that has proven to be quite effective. Let’s find out why this strategy is so effective:

You Feel Happier

Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges faced by someone who has just begun their road to recovery. You’re trying to distance yourself from the people you used to drink or use drugs with, and your family may not be easily reachable. This can be a cause of depression and other issues. Get yourself a pet and addiction recovery will become a lot less lonely!

Pets also help you meet new people. If you take your dog out for a walk, you’re bound to have people come up to meet your cute friend. This can lead to great conversations, and you won’t even be awkward because your pet makes for a great conversation topic!

A study published by Science Mag found that interactions between humans and pets increase oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone; it gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.  A similar response has been observed in mother-infant interactions

Animals are always doing something. They’re bound to do something silly or cute that will make you smile. Just the act of smiling or laughing can be fundamental to someone in drug rehab.

Physical Benefits

Pets like dogs, which are the most common recovery buddies, are full of energy. To look after one, you’re forced to become physically active as well. You have to walk them at least once a day, so you’ll have to force yourself to be out and about.

Exercise is important during addiction recovery as it helps your body get stronger and recover from the harmful effects it had endured earlier. Even if you’re not running with your pets, you can still go out into the sunlight and breathe in the fresh air, which is refreshing.

A smaller pet can still be included in your daily activities. Listen to calming music with your bird while doing yoga or let your cat roam around the backyard while you work out. Try to do activities with your pet, and you’re bound to have a lot more fun!

A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia discovered that petting a dog for 15 minutes reduced blood pressure in people by 10%. Showing love to your pet releases hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin while lowering cortisol (the stress hormone). The hormones released lower stress and relax your body.

Lower blood pressure will protect you from heart disease. It’s also been reported that living in a household with animals can strengthen your immune system. Animals are an excellent tool for pain management because they keep owners so distracted that they often forget about their pain.

A New Purpose

Taking care of another life is a big responsibility. Pets can be very needy and taking care of them can tire you out. That’s precisely why they’re so great!

When you adopt a pet, you have a new goal in life, which can help re-establish your self-belief and feelings of self-worth. Your pets rely on you and you know that you have to stay strong for them because they don’t have anyone else. This trust placed in you by your best friends can be immensely motivating.

Not everyone in recovery can take care of a pet at home, so it’s essential to make sure you’re capable of taking on this new responsibility. Take good care of your pets and addiction recovery will become less daunting!


Pets, especially dogs, have excellent emotional radars. They can sense when you’re feeling depressed or having a panic attack. Whenever they sense that you’re feeling down, they’ll instantly rush to your side and express their love. Dogs will lick you and give you cuddles.

Dogs also show “emotional honesty” which means that they can’t hide their emotions. If they’re happy, sad, angry, or scared, they’ll show that feeling clearly in their behavior. They can mirror your emotions, so if you’re feeling anxious, you’ll see your dog also feeling that anxiety. This can help you recover by identifying your mental state better.

Lots of Love

A pet’s love is unconditional. They love you no matter what you’ve done and what anybody else thinks of you. Individuals in recovery can often have low self-esteem. The unwavering affection shown by your pets towards you can be a big self-confidence booster.

No matter how many times you fall, fail, or make mistakes, your pet will always give you that same amount of love and attention.

They can also be an emotional outlet. If you want to get something off your chest, your pets will always listen. The best part is that there are no judgments and no unwanted opinions!


Dogs are best for people in drug rehab as they have impeccable emotional radars and a natural tendency to express their love. If you don’t think you can handle it, you can go for other animals. Cats are also great therapeutic animals. You can even get fluffy rabbits or scaly lizards.

All in all, a pet can be a refreshing and supportive companion. However, you need to keep in mind that this is only a part of a comprehensive solution. If you are starting drug rehab or know someone who is on their path to recovery, reach out to professionals who can help you out.