Emotional support pets offer support and companionship to those suffering from a psychological disorder. 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

How can emotional support pets benefit addicts?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, substance use disorders and mental illnesses are “commonly co-occurring.” The recovering addict likely has some underlying psychological issues they need to work out. While pets aren’t the best therapy tool for every patient, they can have many benefits.

They Help You Relax

Connecting with an emotional support animal can make every aspect of your life more relaxing. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), studies have shown that pets lower stress levels, decrease loneliness, increase happiness, and even lower blood pressure and cholesterol. When you’re happy and less stressed, you’re less likely to relapse.

Give You a Sense of Purpose

Having a loveable little friend to feed, care for, and talk to gives you a reason to get up in the morning. If you decide on a dog or cat, they’re probably waking you up in the morning! Pets can motivate you to get up in the morning, but they can also motivate you to get outside and move.

Provide a Distraction from Triggers

Taking the dog for a walk or playing with your pet inside can be a great distraction that allows you to take control of whatever is triggering an urge to use. Considering that stress is a common trigger for many people in recovery, the stress-relieving benefits of pet ownership can be a real life-saver.

Provides Comfort

An article published in Psychology Today in 2018 entitled “How Dogs Drive Emotional Well-Being” notes research done by the University of Vienna. This study showed that “dogs can sense emotions and even differentiate between good and bad ones.”

We all have hard times. It does no good to pretend that more hard times won’t come. Having a pet during these times gives us a sense of comfort and a feeling that we’re not alone. When you’re feeling really lonely and just a bit blue, few things are more helpful than a furry friend.

Keeping your mental health in check is a vital part of keeping your sobriety in check. Never hesitate to seek help when you need it. For more information on help with your individual mental health and sobriety needs, call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843.