The road of addiction recovery tends to be a rollercoaster ride with some ups and downs. It’s likely if you’re on the path of recovery, you’ve got some resources and tools to lean on to help you stay true to the recovery path.
Maybe you see a therapist regularly or attend recovery meetings. Perhaps you regularly read or listen to encouraging and motivational information about recovery and life. You may even write about your recovery and inspire others.
But have you considered how having a pet can help you in your recovery?
It’s no secret that an animal can bring about meaning and joy to a pet owner. In fact, many pet owners will tell you that their animals love them regardless of who they are, where they’ve been, or what they’ve done.
They don’t judge and tend to love without conditions.
If you’ve just entered into a recovery program, or if you’ve been on the recovery path for a while, you may want to consider how being a pet owner can have a positive influence on your life. Of course, this is only if you actually care about pets. After all, not everyone is a pet owner or is in a place where pets are allowed.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of adopting a pet to foster your recovery:
The journey of sobriety can sometimes be challenging. You may have experienced loss or feel alone at times. One thing about a pet is that it won’t abandon you. A dog is likely to greet you at the door with its tails wagging. A cat may be happy to see you, rubbing up against your leg purring like an engine. They are happy to see you.
In fact, many pets recognize the sound of their owner’s vehicle and are anxiously wait at the door or peer out the window ready to lavish some big love.
If you’re seeking a good friend where you can just be you and be welcomed and accepted, a pet can certainly be the way to go.
If you’re like many traveling the recovery path, you’ve had to give up some friendships or distance yourself from those who continue to party. Hopefully, you have some family or friends in your life that you can spend time with.
However, adding a pet to your life can help you add some fun to your life, as they can make excellent playmates. Dogs are especially good at engaging with. They tend to have their own unique personality and enjoy spending quality time with their owner.
If you have a dog, you can play fetch, wrestle around with it, take it for a walk or hike, let it ride with you in the car, and so on. If you’ve got a cat, teasing it with a ball of yarn. They tend to love going after strings.
The reality is that there are wonderful ways to enjoy your pet and have some fun. When you feel lonely or are tempted to meet up with old friends that aren’t a good influence, turn to your pet that is always willing to add some laughter to your life.
Interacting with your pet can a tremendous stress reliever. The unconditional love a pet bestows upon its owner can help you relax and feel loved. Your pet won’t be aware of the day you’ve had, but will be excited to see you when you return home. They won’t have any hidden agenda when they see you. They just want a little attention and in return, they’ll lavish heartfelt love on you.
If you’ve got a stressful life, know that a pet can be better than having a stress ball. Research shows petting a dog can help decrease the stress levels of cortisol in your body. Hearing the purr of a cat can boost serotonin levels in your brain.
Petting, curling up on the sofa together, rolling around on the floor are wonderful diversions and before long, your stress level will begin to wane.
If you’re going to have a pet, then you must commit to being responsible for it. Pets can teach us valuable lessons, such as being selfless, committed, and responsible. Many people in recovery share how taking on the commitment to care for a pet helped them step up and be more committed in other areas of their life. It can help you too.
Most pets are somewhat self-sufficient, but all pets need to be cared for in some form or fashion. If you’re seeking a pet that’s easier to care for, you may want to consider a cat. If a cat feels too much, consider getting a fish. It’s a good start and requires less care.
Keep in mind that dogs require more time and care, as they need to be let outside to use the bathroom. They also tend to desire more affection than cats.
Some people develop attachments with other animals too, such as a horse, rabbit, chickens, hamster, and more. What you’re drawn to will be unique to you, as everyone is different.
Owning and taking care of a pet can add value to your life and help you along your recovery path. The companionship you feel with a pet may help reduce emotions of loneliness, depression, stress, or sadness.
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed or simply can’t afford to have a pet right now, it’s alright. Put your energy into your own self-care right now. Having a pet should bring you less stress; not more. Down the road, revisit the possibility of having a pet when you feel ready.
If and when you adopt a pet, you’ll gain a sense of responsibility knowing that another living creature relies on you and loves you for who you are. You’re there for them and they are there for you – and that’s a rather nice feeling.