3 Ways a Dog Can Help in Addiction Recovery

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We all have struggles in life. Some have bigger things to deal with than others. One of the hardest things to go alone is addiction recovery. Having a pet could be just the thing you need to help you through this challenging and stressful time. Let’s look at the top three ways a dog can help in addiction recovery.

No doubt, a dog can give you love and support. It is said all the time that their affection is unconditional. I think it almost loses it meaning. Unconditional. Without conditions. No matter what. If you are going through a difficult time, who is there?! Dog. If you are crying, who comes to comfort you? Dog. They really are one of the best creatures.

We all have problems and struggles in life. Some have bigger things to deal with than others. But Dog is always there.

I used to be in a program called Celebrate Recovery. I joined to rid myself of toxic relationships in my life. I found out that one of my biggest issues was that I was codependent. A word I have never heard before then.

Codependent is defined as, “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.”


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Go figure – I would be in recovery for someone else’s recovery. Ha.

I worked my way through the program and then become a group leader. One of the hardest things to go alone is addiction recovery. Having a pet could be just the thing you need to help you through this challenging and stressful time.

Your dog does not judge, does not critique. They just love and want the best for you! There are many reasons why owning a pet during addiction recovery is beneficial. Let’s look at the top three ways.


Unconditional Love

Like I said, one of the main reasons dogs are as incredible as they are is their ability to love no matter what. Going through addiction recovery is hard enough. There is no room for negativity to seep into your day-to-day life.

Dogs provide unconditional love. Your dog will be there for you through thick and thin. She will see you through until he can no longer. Your dog will supply you with attention and care at all times.

They will never judge you or criticise you. It is this unconditional acceptance that can help you to build your self-esteem back up when you have been going through an addiction problem.

In fact, this is something that many treatment centers, such as Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres, recommend for their patients once they leave their facility. Pets provide a level of social support that makes you feel loved, wanted, and needed.

For someone who is struggling with an addiction of any kind, this can be very important because they love you in spite of what has happened and they do not enable your addiction.



Emotional Honesty is Key

Another reason owning a pet is good if you are going through recovery addiction is because pets, especially dogs, show total emotional honesty. This is something that horses also exhibit. Pets cannot hide their feelings and they will show signs of relaxation, happiness, anger, and fear.


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This level of emotional honesty is something that all humans can benefit from. You can spend years of numbing your emotions through alcohol, drugs abuse, or lust. Even while going through depression, you sometimes learn you shut everything out. I went years without feeling any true highs or lows.

You can find yourself in a place where you need to relearn how to recognize and express emotions. A pet can help you to do this. Pay close attention to the way your dog (or other pets) express themselves.

Be open and honest about how you feel, even if it is only to yourself and your pet. The emotional honesty will cleanse your mind and soul.



Pets help reduce stress

The third and final reason we will talk about today is that pets help to reduce stress. There are many ways your dog helps you live longer. One of the most important ways is by reducing your stress levels.

Stress is one of people’s biggest triggers in recovery. Stress can be absolutely maddening. No one wants to experience a relapse, one of the most important things you need to do is find a healthy way to manage stress.

A pet can bring balance to your stress management routine. They ease your mind and make you feel less stressed and more relaxed. Petting your pupper will lower your oxytocin levels in the brain. This is why pet therapy has been shown to lower blood pressure levels. The rhythmic stroking of an animal is calming.

If you ever need a timeout from life, go find a quiet place and sit down with your buddy and give him a good snuggle. You can even pull out a brush if you prefer.



There are a number of different reasons why you should consider owning a pet if you are currently going through addiction recovery. Aside from this, it is also worth bearing in mind that pets help you to build relationships with other people. Socializing is a great way to find accountability and distraction from troubles.

Have you experienced any of these benefits while going through a recovery of any kind? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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