Every dog has its day, and for the U.S., that day is March 23rd—National Puppy Day. In honor of the special connections between canines and humans, this article will highlight the ways in which puppies enhance the lives of people who are in recovery from addiction.
With their unconditional love and irresistible charm, puppies can provide constant companionship for people who are facing changes in their lives. Through all the stages of addiction recovery, puppies can help ease the stress that often comes with the recovery process.
Animals and Therapy
Dogs aren’t the only animals that have been used to help people during their addiction recovery journey. Equine therapy is offered at some addiction treatment centers and has been shown to provide real benefits. Similarly, puppies can be used to enhance the treatment process and recovery journey. Puppies can lighten the mood of each day with their mischievous and playful natures.
Because multiple studies have shown that pets benefit overall health and well-being, it’s not surprising that some treatment centers encourage patients to spend time with their pets or even to adopt a puppy.1
Puppies and Stress Management
Stress is a significant factor in the development of an addiction and a risk indicator for relapse. Stress can be stubborn and difficult to cope with, but sometimes stress relief comes with floppy ears, a wagging tail and wet nose.
Research has shown that playing with a pet can lead to reduced levels of stress hormones, including cortisol.2 Puppies require lots of interaction, which is not only fun for both dog and human but is beneficial for your mind too. The exercise that comes with walking a dog can help to reduce stress too.
Puppies Encourage Responsibility
One of the concepts of equine therapy is to reintroduce aspects of responsibility. Like horses or other types of pets, puppies require their owners to be responsible for their care. This responsibility can help people feel good about themselves and good about the tasks before them each day. The reward for this responsibility is a happy pet that gets to live with an owner that walks it, trains it and feeds it.
Love and Companionship
A new puppy will not care about their owner’s past, but they will note the times when their person feels down or lonely. A person need not feel lonely when they have a loyal dog willing to sit beside them during the tough times. Dogs provide loyal companionship and a level of intuition that is truly remarkable.
Not every person in recovery will feel inclined to take on the responsibility of a pet, but they can still enjoy some of the joys that puppies can bring to their lives. For those who want to interact with dogs without taking on the full responsibility of pet ownership, they might consider volunteering some of their time at a shelter, spending time with a family member’s pets or earning some money on the side as a dog walker.