Companion animals are popular in the US and all over the world. According to the National Pet Owners Survey 2021-2022, 70% of all US households include companion animals. Pets don’t just provide love and affection – they can even help keep us well. Recent studies have linked pet ownership to lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, lower incidence of heart disease, and lower overall health care costs. In short, Companion animals make us happier and healthier. So it’s fair to keep them safe, healthy, and happy too.
How Pets Help Those in Addiction Recovery
The post-recovery end of addiction can be lonely. For a lot of people, giving up drugs or booze means giving up the friends and lifestyle that facilitated their substance abuse problem. Some people alienate their loved ones when in the throes of addiction and come out on the other side with damaged relationships. Others may find themselves in a new town or city trying to get a fresh start, but with no one around to spend time with.
Adopting companion animals is a great way for those going through addiction recovery to cope with loneliness. A pet provides you with structure– you have to wake up every day and be at home every night to take care of them. You have to hold down a job so you can make the money necessary to buy your companion animals the few things they need. But best of all, pets provide you with unconditional love. Your pet can be the support system you rely on to help you get through the tough times in your addiction recovery.
Determining the best companion animals for you
A lot of people already have a preference when it comes to companion pets. The whole dog person/cat/person dichotomy is pretty ingrained within our societal psyche. However, it’s important to take into consideration your current lifestyle and what kind of Companion Animals would be most comfortable adjusting to your home.
Cats are great Companion Animals for apartment dwellers. A cat doesn’t need much space and spends most of its day sleeping. They don’t have to be let outside to use the restroom and they clean themselves. Sitting with a purring cat in your lap is therapeutic and can actually improve your physical and mental health. And despite what the pro-dog propaganda machine has told you, science proves cats are loving creatures that adore their owners. They’re just not all needy about it. Adopting a cat is a great low-maintenance option for a first-time pet owner.
Of course, adopting a dog is rewarding as well, especially if you are allergic to cats. Canines take more maintenance than felines as they have to be let outside, they need more attention and generally, they have to go to a professional to be groomed. While some dogs do pretty well in apartments, a lot of breeds need a large home and fenced-in backyard to be happy. However, dogs are incredibly loving and loyal pets. Dogs also provide their owners with more exercise, as they need to be walked daily. They help people in addiction recovery establish a healthy routine and they can even be trained to respond to anxiety.
Preparing Your Home for companion animals
Once you’ve decided on what kind of pet you want, the search begins. Contact a local rescue agency to connect with an adoption expert that can find the perfect animal partner for you. This may take some time, but all good things in life do.
When you are getting ready to bring your pet home, make sure you have everything they need set up before their arrival:
- Food and treats
- Collar and tags
- Bed and pillows
- Balls and toys
- Litter box and litter for cats
- Crate (if crate training dog)
- Leash and harness for dogs
- Scratching posts and pads for cats (trust us, your furniture will thank you)
If you live in a home with a yard, you should also have a fence installed. Doing so will help protect your pet by keeping out unwanted wildlife and other neighborhood pets. If you adopt a dog, it will also give them a place to run and play safely and will provide you with the peace of mind that they won’t be able to stray too far from home. Look on Angi for fence contractors to find a highly-rated professional in your area.
Life with your Companion pet
Once you’ve brought your pet home, let them wander around and get acclimated. Try not to follow your pet around and instead, engage in life as you normally would. Your pet may hide in a closet or under the bed for a while, but eventually, they will come out and explore their new home.
Bonding with your new pet takes time. Every once in and awhile, put aside what you are doing and play with your new furry friend. Take your dog on an extra walk or have your cat chase the laser pointer around. Over time, you can plan excursions with your pet, especially your dog. Most canines love a good camping or hiking trip with their owner.
People in addiction recovery need structure and support. Adopting a Companion pet can do just that for some. When choosing a pet, consider your lifestyle and what animal best fits into it. Then you can work with an adoption specialist at your local shelter to find the best pet for you. Prepare your home before you bring home your furry friend by having everything they need. Finally, reap all the benefits of pet ownership by spending time with them daily.
For help during your recovery from addiction and advice on the best companion animals that will fit your personality contact Philadelphia Addiction Center at (267) 284-4143 or scan the QR code below.