• Staff Writer

The Benefits of Having Pets During Recovery

Recovery is a complicated and rewarding process. There are some days you feel supported and other days when you feel lonely. Surrounding yourself with encouraging people is a great place to start, but even the best people don’t offer the companionship that pets do. Pets are a big responsibility, but if that is something you’re ready for, it can improve your mental health, inspire your continuing work in recovery, and make you happier overall.

Benefits of Having a Pet in Recovery

Having a pet during recovery is not a distraction but rather a way to focus on the positive aspects of your life. It is no secret that animals bring joy. You see a dog on the street, you smile. You go to a friend’s house, and you spend most of your time with their pet.

Being around animals is proven to be emotionally, psychologically, and physically beneficial to people. Not only are animals free from the judgment and the drama that can come with human interaction, but the connection we form with them is incomparable. The bond we create with pets improves our confidence and enhances joy. It is no secret that people benefit from having pets during recovery and here is even more proof: #1 Increase Oxytocin levels: Being around pets has the ability to increase your oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is often called the love hormone as it is known to reduce stress. That stress can be related to recovery, work, or anything else.

The publication News in Health stated that being around animals also decreases your production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Animals can reduce loneliness and improve your mood from these aspects alone. #2 Encourage healthier habits: Having a pet means having to take care of that pet. Without taking care of yourself, offering anything to another living being will be challenging. Although all animals need stimulation and exercise, dogs provide the best form of exercise for the owner as well. Taking a dog outside, playing fetch, and going for walks, are all great ways to incorporate more movement into your day. #3 Improve responsibility: Having a new responsibility can feel like a lot, but all the joy a pet provides encourages you to remain accountable. You are more likely to wake up early and stick to a routine for your pet. Knowing that you have someone you care about and love relying on you for food, shelter, and companionship increases the odds that you will remain in recovery. You want to be there for your pet. #4 Expand focus: Recovery gets severely challenging when you’re facing extra stress, anxiety, or struggles with mental illness. Not only do pets naturally boost feel-good hormones, but they offer a positive outlet for your nervous energy and stress. Instead of stewing on your problems and possibly making them worse in your mind, you can focus on playing with your pet, cuddling with them, or just petting them. These small actions make you feel good about what you’re doing and refocus your mind onto something positive and productive. #5 Enhance confidence: Knowing that you are the reason this pet is happy and healthy makes you feel better about yourself. Having the ability to care for an animal that is thriving shows you how capable you are.

Seeing what you can accomplish regarding pet care, proves how strong you are. You stay in recovery when you believe you can, and seeing yourself accomplish something boosts your self-confidence.

The Responsibility of Having a Pet

You can see how amazing having a pet can be for your recovery, but are you truly ready to take on that responsibility? If you are unsure of your ability to focus your energy on caring for an animal like a cat or dog, start smaller. Get a plant. Keep the plant alive. You have to water it and pay attention to its needs, but it doesn’t require constant attention. From there, get a fish. A fish is more work than a plant but not to the level of a four-legged friend. Feed it, clean its bowl, and watch it thrive. If you can keep a fish alive, you might be ready for a pet that requires more energy, time, and focus. Discuss your desire for a pet with your sponsor and your inner circle of friends. They can offer our advice and support, and may even be able to help you adjust to life as a pet parent.

The benefits of having a pet are limitless, especially for people in recovery. Having a loving companion who cares for you without judgment offers you comfort and much-needed peace. The positivity pets offer during recovery includes better responsibility, improved health, less stress, and a firmer belief in yourself. Discovering that you can be the primary source of love, friendship, and food for a pet is encouraging. Your self-esteem is driven by what you see yourself accomplish. If you can take care of a pet, you can take care of yourself and remain in recovery long-term. Recovery does not need to be as lonely as it can be. Having a pet during recovery reminds you that you are not alone. At California Care Detox & Treatment, we believe in you and your healing. We know how much a pet can do for your happiness and want to help in any way we can. Call us at (949) 281-0632 to learn more.

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