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Bonding With Animals Can Help Your Recovery in Parkersburg WV | Harmony Ridge Recovery Center WV
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Learn How Bonding With Animals Can Help Your Recovery in Parkersburg WV

As any animal lover will tell you, spending time with animals is good for you. It is not just an opinion either – multiple scientific studies have proven that spending quality time together is beneficial for both humans and animals. In fact, animals are sometimes used in therapy for conditions such as anxiety and depression. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that if you struggle with addiction, bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV too. Many drug and alcohol treatment centers in West Virginia offer animal-assisted therapy as a part of their program or work with non-profits that do. If you are feeling anxious about rehab, consider spending some time with a furry (or feathery or scaly) friend – it could make a big difference in your recovery!

The science behind how bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV

If you’re an animal person, you probably already have some experience with how animals can help you feel better. Just think back to the time when you were struggling and walking your dog was the only thing that got you out of bed or when your cat cuddling up to you was what kept you going. You may have never given it much thought before; after all, if you care about an animal, it’s only logical that affection from the said animal will make you feel good. But there is more to it than individual bonds.

A woman with two dogs.
If you love animals, spending time with them will always make you happier.

Domesticated animals evolved side-by-side with humans. Because of this, many animals developed characteristics that endear them to humans even without humans deliberately breeding for those characteristics. Cats, for example, started meowing in adulthood in order to communicate with us. And there’s a reason you fall for puppy eyes – the big eyes on some dogs (especially when they’re young) mimic the way our own young look to us and encourage us to bond with the animal.

Bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV because interacting with animals has been proven to lower the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure, and encourage the production of oxytocin (the love hormone). All of these things have a positive effect on our mental and emotional state, making us feel calm, loved, and supported. This is exactly the mindset you want to have in cocaine rehab in West Virginia. The more you stress, the harder it’ll be to focus on treatment. Instead, you can interact with animals to achieve peace of mind. After that, cocaine addiction therapy won’t be so stressful, and you’ll be able to get more out of it.

The history of humans bonding with animals

For as long as humans have existed, we have lived alongside animals. But we have not always lived with them. Humans started domesticating animals between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago, with most species being domesticated between 8,000 and 2.500 years BCE. We don’t know for certain how or why our ancestors domesticated animals; we can only assume that we formed mutually beneficial bonds with different species – they protected us, worked for us, and were a source of nutrition for us while we took care of them and kept them safe from predators.

Two cows looking at the camera.
Humans have been using animals for their strength and speed or meat and milk for tens of thousands of years.

What we do know for certain, however, is that our ancestors cared for the animals they domesticated as more than just a resource. We can conclude this from archeological finds of animal skeletons, especially dogs, that lived to old age, which show signs of healed injuries, and which were buried with bones, tools, or toys they presumably enjoyed while alive. By the age of antiquity, rulers were naming entire cities after their dogs and horses. Even later, in medieval times, many aristocrats sat for paintings with their favorite dogs or cats.

Our relationship with animals has, therefore, never been just about putting them to work. Instead, humans have always been capable and willing to form emotional bonds with animals. In today’s world, having a pet is not at all uncommon. Even if you can’t have one, you can visit a cat or dog cafe or volunteer at a shelter. Many fentanyl rehab centers offer this opportunity to the people in treatment if animals are not permitted at the facility. This allows you to fulfill the age-old need we as a species have for the companionship of non-human creatures.

Service animals for physical and mental health

It is impossible to tell when exactly animals started being trained to assist people with disabilities. There is some evidence, however, that dogs were used to guide the blind as early as the first century, as a wooden carving from Ancient Rome appears to be depicting this. Some Chinese scrolls from the Middle Ages have the same motifs. But we know for a fact that guide dogs for the blind were legally recognized as service animals already in the 1920s. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was introduced in 1990, provided further legal protections for service animals.

Service animals (typically large but obedient breeds of dogs) are animals specifically trained to perform tasks that make their disabled owners’ everyday lives easier. These tasks may range from guiding the individual to carrying things and even alerting symptoms of a medical emergency. It’s not only that bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV – animals can actually help you do things you are otherwise incapable of. Although service animals are not yet very commonly seen in West Virginia heroin rehab, they can actually help with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and OCD, all of which correlate with heroin addiction. This means that you may not be able to get a service dog for addiction specifically but could potentially get one for other issues with mental health that drive your addiction.

Animal-assisted therapy and other mental health programs

The positive impact of animals on mental well-being is so great that all manner of animal species can be and are used in mental health treatment on a regular. Animals like dogs, cats, and horses often serve as therapy animals. Their mere presence can help reduce anxiety levels, distract from stress, and facilitate communication. Interacting with an animal can also make patients more engaged in therapy as it keeps them occupied and interested. Finally, some therapists use animals to teach patients about interpreting body language, setting boundaries, and projecting personal feelings on others.

bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV if you use them for therapy.
Equine therapy is very effective in addiction treatment.

Trained therapy animals can also be used outside of therapy sessions. You’ve probably seen videos of this online. Dogs, cats, horses, and even other animals may visit people in hospice, children’s cancer wards, prisons, universities, or libraries during finals, and more. Your Ambien rehab facility may also be a participant in this type of program! The goal is to help people in difficult situations relax and boost their mood – things therapy animals are really good at.

The benefits of having pets

Animals do not have to be trained to provide support; even an average pet can improve their owner’s mental and even physical health. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. They are also less likely to suffer from heart disease and more likely to survive heart attacks. Dog owners specifically live longer on average than people without pets. This is all because pets reduce stress and anxiety levels, which then reduces the strain on your heart, which in turn leads to better overall health. So after you complete barbiturates rehab, consider getting a pet. Playing with your pet is a much healthier and more effective way to relieve stress than using substances!

How bonding with animals can help your addiction recovery in Parkersburg WV

It is clear, then, that humans benefit from bonding with animals and always have done so. When talking about the benefits of those bonds, most people don’t immediately think of animal therapy in benzodiazepine rehab centers. This is because the way animals help people with substance use disorder is somewhat less obvious than the way cattle benefit a farmer, or a service animal benefits a blind person. So what exactly can bonding with an animal do for a person in addiction recovery?

Decreased stress and anxiety

Stress is one of the most common triggers for drug use and relapse. Many people turn to substances as a way to cope with pressure and anxiety, only to lose control over their substance use and end up in marijuana rehab West Virginia instead. However, the stress doesn’t end there – rehab can also be emotionally and mentally difficult. At such a time, it is good to have an outlet, something that makes you feel better. Animals are great at this.

Person petting a cat as a way bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV
Bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV by making you calmer and happier.

Interacting with animals lowers your stress hormone levels and encourages the production of happy chemicals. This, in turn, lowers the heart rate and alleviates the physical symptoms of stress. Once your body is no longer in flight-or-fight mode, your brain will also follow. You will then feel calmer and be in a better mood. And when you no longer need to deal with stress and anxiety, you can instead focus on recovery.

A sense of companionship

Being in stimulants rehab can be a lonely experience. Of course, you will have other people in recovery to talk to, and your counselor is always there for you as well. A lot of your recovery happens in your own head, and no one can keep you company in your thoughts. Furthermore, addiction to stimulants often causes rifts in your relationships with your family and friends. This can lead you to lose contact with some important people; missing them will often make you feel even lonelier.

Animals make for great companions that provide unconditional love and support. You won’t be alone when you have an animal by your side. And the best part is that you don’t have to worry about being judged or abandoned – an animal you’ve bonded with will be there for you regardless of your struggles.

Increased motivation and engagement

One of the main benefits of animals in therapy is that they keep people engaged. This may seem contradictory at first. After all, wouldn’t you focus more on the animal than the therapist? The truth is that many people find it difficult to be constantly and consistently mentally present in rehab. Your thoughts will never only be on recovery – they’ll go to your past, your family, and, of course, substances. Keeping all your focus on therapy is almost impossible. Introducing an animal into the monotony that is your everyday life in an opiate rehab center can change all that.

Bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV because animals are not a routine. Even if you are around the same animal every day, it has a mind of its own, so every interaction with it will be different. This makes even repetitive actions feel less monotonous and helps you avoid going through the motions on autopilot. By staying in the present, you can then more meaningfully engage in your recovery. Although an animal may feel like a distraction, it is actually helping you stay focused.

bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV when it's an unusual occurrance - like when you get to hold a rabbit.
Animals can inspire you to be more dedicated to your treatment.

Finally, if you are a person who loves animals, then you can use them as motivation to keep working on your sobriety. Do you have a pet at home? You’ll be able to spend more quality time with them once you complete rehab. Perhaps you don’t have a pet but want one. Once you’re sober, you can get the pet you want. Or maybe you prefer more casual interactions that don’t require much commitment or responsibility on your part. In that case, the weekly visit from a therapy animal can be what motivates you to keep going.

Improved overall mental health

It won’t surprise you to learn that people who are in a meth rehab center in West Virginia often suffer from poor mental health. Whether you started using meth to self-medicate for a mental disorder, you already had or developed some kind of disorder due to addiction, as an addict, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than the average person. Anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders make everyday life harder even when you’re not struggling with substance abuse. And when you are, they can make your recovery incredibly difficult because they divert your attention, time, and energy from working on your sobriety. This is why it is important to work on improving your mental health if you want to make rehab easier.

Interacting with animals is by no means a replacement for therapy but it can greatly improve your mental health nonetheless. By lowering your stress levels and boosting your mood, animals can have a positive impact on your mental and emotional well-being. This means you won’t need to invest as much time and effort into simply feeling okay most of the time and can instead focus on your addiction recovery.

Ways of bonding with animals that can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV

Being in an inpatient drug rehab in WV is a great way to commit to your recovery and avoid the temptation to use substances. It can definitely limit your opportunities to interact with animals. but you’ll still have options both during and after treatment if you get a bit creative. You just need to first let go of the idea that owning a pet is the only way to develop a bond with an animal. Instead, consider the following:

Starting animal therapy

There is no magical formula for substance abuse treatment WV. Different people respond to different things. What kind of therapy is most beneficial for you will depend on your unique needs and preferences. If you love animals, you should inquire about the possibilities for animal therapy. Most addiction treatment centers don’t offer this type of therapy. Your case manager or counselor may be able to refer you to someone in the area who does or suggest a farm that specializes in equine therapy. Either way, this allows you to integrate animal bonding into your very treatment.

Pet-sitting for a friend

It is not the best idea to get a new pet while you are in recovery. Pets are living beings that have needs, and you won’t be able to focus on fulfilling those while you’re still working on yourself. In fact, you may even want to find someone to take care of any pets that you do have because an intensive outpatient program in West Virginia takes up a lot of time and energy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with animals at all.

Woman with a puppy.
Pet sitting is a good way to test-run pet ownership before you commit.

Pet-sitting is the perfect compromise that allows you to care for an animal without fully committing to being responsible for it. Consider volunteering to take care of your friends’ dogs, cats, and other pets when they’re busy or traveling. You’ll get the chance to bond with the animal through regular interactions, but it won’t depend on you all the time as a pet does. When you’re in the right headspace, you can help out. When you’re struggling, this won’t negatively impact the animal because you’re not its primary carer. It’s a good way to introduce some responsibility for others without taking on too much before you’re ready.

Volunteering at an animal shelter

Another great way to bond with animals without taking on the responsibility that comes with ownership is to volunteer at an animal shelter or a farm. Animal organizations are always looking for people to help them out. Not only will bonding with animals help your recovery in Parkersburg WV, but you’ll also get to do something good for the world around you. Research shows that helping others and contributing to the community makes us feel better; volunteer work is, therefore, in and of itself good for your mental health. And when it allows you to bond with animals, it just gets better.

Getting a pet

For people who struggle with substance use, having a pet can be hugely beneficial. If you love your pet and want what’s best for them, then you simply have to take good care of them. This will motivate you to stay sober so that you can be the kind of carer your pet needs. In return, your pet’s unconditional love will help you through tough times. Keep in mind that getting a pet means taking on the responsibility of caring for another living thing. Your pet will need to be fed regularly, cleaned, walked, played with, and taken to the vet, and you will be the person who needs to make sure all those things happen. If you are not ready for all that, then you’re not ready to have a pet yet.

Woman holding a kitten.
A pet can make your life better – and you can make their life better too!

It’s best to get a pet after you’ve already completed rehab. To ease yourself into everyday life after addiction, you should go through sober living WV first. While sharing space with others on the path to sobriety, you’ll also share responsibilities. This will prepare you to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet too. Then, when you’re confident that you can provide a good home for an animal, you can get a pet.

If you haven’t had pets before, you’ll want to do your research and start with a beginner species or breed. While dogs are the most popular choice, they are also a pretty demanding one. Cats are more independent and, therefore, easier to care for. Some types of birds and rodents are even easier. Don’t take on more than you can handle, or you’ll just end up feeling more stressed.

Getting a service animal

For some people who struggle with addiction and other mental health issues, service dogs and emotional support animals can be of great help. They can be trained to assist you with everyday tasks or stop harmful behaviors. They also provide constant companionship and support. In their off-time, they will be like any other pet, and you can play or cuddle with them to your heart’s content. However, service animals are not for everyone. They are very resource-demanding; not only are they expensive to train, but it can also take months or even years to develop a good working relationship with them. You’ll also need to balance their working and leisure time well. This is important for the animal to have a good quality of life.

Person with a service dog.
Service dogs are of great help, but they are also a huge commitment.

If you’re considering this option, keep in mind that service animals are not your average pet. They are working animals. You’ll need to train them, work with them, and treat them as working animals. While they are your companion, their purpose is, above all, to assist you with medical and psychological issues. On that note, you may not qualify for a service animal on the basis of addiction. However, there are schools that train service dogs for anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, and other co-occurring conditions. If you have a dual diagnosis, you could get a service dog for another disorder in the hopes that managing it will also help you maintain sobriety.

The best animals to bond with in order to help your recovery in Parkersburg WV along

The best animal to bond with is one that you personally feel a connection to. Typically, people find it easiest to bond with animals they can directly interact with – touch, pet, cuddle, and play with. This means the animal must be friendly, non-threatening, and open to contact with humans; ideally, it’ll also be trainable and relatively obedient. For this reason, the most common animals kept as pets and used in therapy are:

  • dogs: Man’s best friend lives up to its name. Dogs are affectionate and loyal; they form strong bonds with their owners and make for great, albeit demanding, pets. They’re easily trainable and widely accepted as service animals, companions, and pets. Their size, intelligence, and other characteristics will depend on the breed.
  • cats: Friendly and affectionate but less demanding than dogs, cats make for popular pets. They’re highly intelligent, curious, and playful. However, they are also quite independently minded and can be difficult to train.
  • horses: Although they need a lot of space and some special care, horses are not very demanding on a day-to-day basis. They can form very strong bonds with their handlers and be very affectionate. In addiction recovery, they are especially popular because they provide immediate feedback on your actions and have very clear body language, making them easy to read; learning how to identify a horse’s emotions can, in turn, help you identify your own.
  • rats: Highly intelligent, curious, and playful, rats make for surprisingly good pets. In many ways, they are similar to cats. However, they tend to be more affectionate and even clingy; this makes them perfect for anyone who wants to always feel loved and needed. Keep in mind that when they are not provided with enough mental stimulation, they can become destructive.
Person with a service dog.
Service dogs are of great help, but they are also a huge commitment.

Tips on bonding with animals properly in order to help your recovery in Parkersburg WV

There is no doubt that bonding with animals can help your recovery in Parkersburg WV, but it needs to be done right. Treat the animals you bond with right – be kind to them and take good care of them. This is what inspires loyalty and love in return. Don’t force a connection with an animal that doesn’t like you. Finally, make sure that an animal fits your current needs and means. Don’t get a pet if you’re not ready for one – it’ll only cause you stress and result in you abandoning the animal in the end. Remember that animals are also living beings with their own needs, preferences, and opinions. They’re friends rather than possessions. If you treat them as such, they’ll return the favor and help you on your road to recovery.

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