Josh Chandler | February 17, 2021

Can I Bring My Pet to Rehab? The Answer Might Surprise You

Many Treatment Centers Now Allow You to Bring Your Pet

If you’re going into rehab and feel anxious about leaving your dog or other pets behind, here’s some good news: You can probably find pet-friendly rehabs that will let your furry friend stay with you throughout your treatment. In fact, you probably should bring your pet if you can. They could improve your chance of success in recovery.

How Pets Help to Improve Outcomes in Addiction Treatment

From physical healing to emotional support, researchers have found many ways pets can help alcoholics and addicts succeed in treatment while attending pet-friendly rehabs:

They’re natural stress relievers

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that people who regularly interact with animals have lower cortisol levels and blood pressure. The NIH also cites a survey by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, in which 74 percent of pet owners reported improvements in their mental health. When you’re calm and relaxed, you’re less likely to turn to chemicals for artificial relief.

Pets can help your brain learn to feel good naturally 

While your pet reduces stress hormones, they’re also stimulating chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – known as “the cuddle hormone” – that make you feel good. These are the same chemicals artificially created by drugs like opioids. If your brain learns to produce them naturally, it will reduce your dependence on artificial means of feeling pleasure.

Animal care teaches compassion

Being responsible for another living being – keeping them fed and sheltered, making sure they’re treated well, and that other needs are met – takes you out of yourself and reduces the feeling that everything is about you. Caring for a pet distracts you from your problems, so you may be better able to look for other ways of solving them.

Pets reduce risky behavior

You’re less likely to get drunk or high if your pet is waiting for you to take them for a walk or feed them. What if you’re hospitalized, arrested, or worse? Who’ll take care of your best friend? It’s another way of learning that actions have consequences, a fact that can be clouded in addiction.

Pets help you follow healthy routines

Rehab patients are often encouraged to build healthy habits by practicing regular routines. Caring for a pet requires following a routine, and these habits tend to be physically fit; you can burn off excess energy by taking regular walks and playing games with each other.

They reduce negative emotions

A pet’s simple companionship gives you a way to cope with the feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression you may experience during your recovery. It’s hard to explode or isolate yourself when your pet is eager to play with you. It’s an opportunity to learn how to re-channel negative emotions and deal with them in a healthy way.

They give you unconditional love

All a pet asks of you is that you give them food, shelter, and a little attention – and sometimes they don’t even ask for that much. Your pet loves you no matter what, and their affection is obvious. Once you experience how it feels to be loved, you may want to seek that feeling from other natural sources.

Pet-Friendly Rehab at Muse Treatment Center in Los Angeles

While pet-friendly rehabs are becoming more common, it’s not available everywhere. Muse Treatment Center in Los Angeles welcomes animal companions to pet-friendly rehab because we know a relationship with a pet is a powerful positive influence. The bond between humans and animals provides essential support for continued recovery. To learn more about how your pet can fit into rehab at Muse Treatment, call 800-426-1818.

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Josh Chandler
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