Many people that enter residential treatment are suffering from chronic relapsing diseases.
The risk of a relapse can bring on feelings of defeat and failure.
These are obviously counter-productive when long term recovery is the main focus and goal for each client that graduates.
Finding other resources to help aid in recovery outside of treatment is one way to keep recovery in focus. Service dogs help fight addiction by providing companionship.
Psychiatric service dogs are service dogs trained to aid a person with a mental disability or disorder.
They are usually trained specifically to meet the individual’s needs based on their illness and the severity of their disability or disorder.
For many people that have addictions, relapse is a very real risk. It often exacerbates the symptoms of their illness.
Though these individuals may qualify for a service dog, help sometimes comes too late.
However, a service dog can benefit addicts who have a mental illness or disorder because they aid in addiction recovery as well.
Dogs Can Act as a Coping Mechanism
Another way service dogs help fight addiction is by acting as a coping mechanism and keeping perspective when stressors occur.
Addiction in people with mental illness is usually caused by an attempt to self-medicate. With the stigma against mental illness, many people avoid treatment and instead abuse substances as a coping mechanism.
As they recover, they must learn to cope with their mental illness in more positive ways.
For some, that could be exercising, meditating, crafting, or any number of healthy activities. If the individual has a service dog, he may be able to use pet care as a form of coping.
Grooming, playing with, bathing, and walking a service dog can be a great way to keep someone’s mind off relapse as he undergoes the recovery process.
The dog also may be trained to alert a loved one when its handler is in danger of a relapse.
Dogs Help Keep You Active and Social
When you go everywhere with a dog, the people around you suddenly want to stop, talk, ask questions, and say hi to the dog.
This works to prevent isolation in people with mental health concerns. Which in turn, helps them battle one of the reasons to self-medicate. Dogs also require exercise, which forces their owners to get out of bed and out of the house.
Taking care of your service dog can keep depression at bay, which helps to alleviate another common reason for self-medication.
People with mental health problems and addiction also can avoid relapse because they know that their dogs depend on them.
Service dogs help fight addiction by giving their humans something to think about other than their addictions.
Relapsing could bring harm to your dog, and spending an evening with him snoozing on your lap makes it difficult to justify a relapse.
Integrating Dogs Into Therapy
Drug rehab programs are already using therapy dogs to help people overcome addiction. In group therapy, dogs were found to foster sharing, allowing the participants to reveal helpful information.
The dogs helped participants to acknowledge problems in their lives that may have led to their current state and to become more self-aware. Some programs are even recommending that recovering addicts have a dog at home due to their many benefits.
Though simply owning a dog will not cure addiction, it certainly has been shown to help.
Choosing to own a psychiatric service dog can be a life-altering decision for people who struggle with mental illness.
Even without the added challenges associated with addiction recovery, PSDs can help make everyday life easier for those with mental disorders and illnesses.
They might make going out in public bearable again. Soothe the emotional outburst of an autistic child. Bring a sufferer of PTSD back from a flashback, or help an addict remain sober. If you feel you can benefit from a psychiatric support dog, do not hesitate.
The perfect partner might be waiting for you.