Awakenings is Pet Friendly*

Animal companions have long been known to soothe their human guardians. Everything from anxiety and depression, drug cravings, to high blood pressure can be ameliorated to some degree by a pet’s unconditional loving companionship.

In light of the crucial role stress management plays in the effectiveness of addiction or trauma recovery programs, a study conducted by the University of Cambridge Department of Veterinary Medicine sheds valuable light on the subject.

Researchers found that pet owners reported significant reductions in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners for up to IO months.

In addition, dog owners got considerably more physical exercise (while walking their dogs) than those without pets. Positive benefits were observed across both physical and emotional health problems.

The results of this research provide evidence that pet companionship could have positive effects on human health and behavior, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long-term.

Both the short- and long-term effects demonstrated in this study suggest the important role pet companionship plays in supporting a recovering person’s critical stress management well-being.

Therapeutic Rationale

The therapeutic rationale for allowing pets has two elements. First, in addition to the health benefits already discussed, the responsibility of daily pet care is a beginning step for many clients toward regaining their sense of maturity in the world.

For many, the basics of adulthood have been stripped during a period of mental health crisis and experiencing the consequences of behavior related to addictive, trauma and/or eating disorders.

Therefore, it can serve as a wonderful beginning to experience the rewards of re-establishing a caring relationship with one’s pet. For some, this is a very important hallmark of the return to healthy living.

The second area of therapeutic importance for clients and their animal companions is shame reduction. Many clients hold tremendous shame regarding the manner in which they neglected, and in some cases abused, their pets while they were either too depressed, traumatized, anxious or under the influence to properly attend to them.

The simple act of providing love and attention to a pet in early recovery can unleash tremendous grief and shame related to past behaviors. The therapeutic material allows for processing and resolution of these issues.

For more information about our treatment programs, please contact our Admissions Team.

*Pet must be pre-approved by Awakenings staff and must be a service animal or ESA.