There is a reason that humans love domesticated animals. They provide love and support free from judgement and they give people a chance to fall into healthy routines and demonstrate independence and responsibility. For these and for many other reasons, pet therapy is common in many drug addiction treatment centers.
In a review of 69 studies that focused on both the psychological and physiological effects of animal-human connection, the root of the benefit was determined to be oxytocin, the same hormone that helps mothers bond with their babies.
According to the study human-animal interactions improve:
- Variables linked to stress, like blood pressure and heart rate
- Interpersonal exchanges
- Cardiovascular health
- Functioning of the immune system
- Pain management
- Trust in others
Because addicts spend so much time laser focused on their needs and the needs of their addiction, they tend to put their needs and desires first. They manipulate and use people to get what they want.
When animals are used in therapy, people in drug addiction treatment centers have to put the animal first. It’s needs a paramount and can’t be expected to wait. This helps people in treatment become more balanced with their focus.
Many people in treatment feel great shame for both their addiction and the things they did to serve it. But, animal therapy can help restore some of their pride. A study of children and animals determined that the mere presence of an animal increased the children’s attitudes about themselves and their ability to connect to others.
Many addicts live in isolation; their relationships having been severed by their substance abuse. By the time drug addiction treatment centers are an option, they may feel completely alone. Animal therapy helps people to cope with loneliness and teaches them how to socialize once more without worry of failure or judgment.