It’s no secret that having a furry friend around makes everyone happy. Pets have the ability to cheer us up, show unconditional love, and keep us motivated with as little as a snuggle. While we might not realize it sometimes, having a pet to take care of helps us keep both our physical and mental health in check. Adopting a cat or a dog can make a positive difference in anyone’s life, especially individuals who are in the addiction recovery process.
The Challenges of Addiction Recovery
Recovery, especially in the early stages, comes with a lot of challenges. Leaving rehab and going back into the real world can be very intimidating for people in recovery. They have to work on implementing new routines that don’t involve substances, learn how to cope with stress in healthy ways, and face relationships that may have been altered due to substance abuse.
When someone decides to get sober, the relationships they have established over the years are bound to change. The side effects of addiction have the potential to damage even the strongest of family relationships and friendships. While working on one’s recovery can help them reconnect with friends and family, it will take time for connections and trust to be rebuilt.
The recovery process can feel very isolating and lonely at times. Not only are people trying to stay sober, but they are working on becoming the happiest and healthiest version of themselves. This can be extremely difficult without solid bonds and a strong support system.
How Adopting A Pet Can Benefit Your Recovery
Everyone in recovery needs a support system, but not every source of support needs to be another person. In fact, a new pet may be the perfect addition to a newly sober person’s support system. A pet, especially when you adopt them, will instantly become your partner without hesitation because you saved them from a shelter or a dangerous situation. They will always be by your side no matter what and will never be able to judge you or know anything about your past. Essentially, adopting pets allows people in recovery to get a fresh start.
Owning a dog or cat can help those who are newly sober get back into a regular daily routine. When you have a pet, you are obligated to get up and get your day started to give them food or take them for a walk. Since they need to eat dinner every day, you can make sure you prepare something for yourself after you feed them. Aligning your schedule with your pet’s needs can help you get back in the swing of things and practice productive habits. Of course, having a pet can also reduce stress and boost the mood. They can tell when you’re feeling low and will do small things, like laying with you or licking you, to show you that they love you.
Pets could even help people who are newly sober socialize more. By taking your dog for a walk in the park for example, you can strike up a conversation with a neighbor who also has a pet. Having a furry friend around can help break the ice in social situations. And the perks of adopting a pet don’t stop there; having an animal keeps you active, serves as a healthy distraction, demonstrates to others that you are ready to take on responsibilities, and more.
Next Steps When You Want to Get A Pet
It is important to remember that owning a pet is a several-year commitment. You should only adopt an animal if you are prepared and equipped to take care of it every day. If you do not yet feel ready to adopt a pet of your own, you could volunteer at an animal shelter in the meantime.
Adopting a pet during recovery can help people who are struggling with addiction feel more like themselves again. They will feel a new sense of purpose and joy that can only come from having a four-legged best friend by your side.