young woman petting dog

Pets in Recovery


Pets in Recovery

The media shares many stories related to pets and how they provide comfort and care to millions of individuals.  Pets are even used in therapy and are given to inmates to learn compassion and love for others to promote empathy.  Pets in recovery have not received much media attention; however, this does not diminish the importance of a pet during substance abuse recovery.


Pets have a unique feature, which is living in the moment.  An animal does not recognize tomorrow or yesterday but rather lives each moment as it happens.  For those in recovery, taking life moment by moment or day by day is important.  Addicts can become overwhelmed with all that needs to be accomplished and could actually benefit from the therapeutic effects of having a pet.  The addict can learn from a pet to live in the moment where serenity and peace are found.


A pet wants nothing more than to be loved.  Simply, the addict wants the same thing.  It is not encouraged for all in recovery to get a pet but if you already have one, your pet can become a source of strength and peace for you.  It can teach you to be calm and to enjoy the moment you have instead of dwelling on the moments that have not yet occurred.


Pets can also inspire us to be playful and to enjoy a good walk.  Exercise is known to have positive psychological and physical benefits to those in recovery so taking your pet for a walk will have benefits for both of you.  Playing catch with your pet or playing with a pet’s favorite toy can help us to learn the value of play and to have fun.  Recovery is a serious endeavor; however, one should stop for just a moment to have a little play time with a pet.


The comfort found in your pet can also help you physically.  There is research to support that petting a cat or a dog relieves stress and reduces blood pressure.  Stress reduction is a good thing in recovery as is taking care of yourself physically.  Pets can also help us psychologically.  They can teach us to be patient, how to love unconditionally, and how to be compassionate and kind.  All great qualities to have for those in recovery.


An integrative approach to treatment is necessary for healing the mind, the body, and the spirit from the effects of addiction, trauma, and mental health. Cottonwood Tucson offers critically acclaimed clinical care for men, women, and adolescents. Call us today for information on our internationally recognized programs. (888) 727-0441.

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CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities NATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs NAADAC newsweek