I am a massive lover of animals but hold a special place in my heart for dogs. When I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona, and still in active addiction, I was of the mindset that things around me needed to change instead of recognizing myself as the issue. That lends itself to thinking, "man if I only got that car" or "if only I got that dream job in Ohio (really wanted it)" or "if I had X or Y" ad infinitum.
During that period, I had the bright idea of adopting a dog, which I believed would help me. I thought to myself, "if I had something that relied on me and that I could take care of, then I would stop drinking and using so much. I'll just be happy."
So I contacted a rescue center, and I went to look for my soon-to-be new dog. Upon arriving at the rescue center, a completely different dog than I had intended on owning glued himself to me. It felt like fate, I didn't realize it at the time, but getting that dog would later save my life.
Continue reading to hear more about my recovery journey with the pet who saved my life, and why at Framework Recovery, we are a pet-friendly addiction treatment program.
ANIMALS PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RECOVERY TREATMENT
Suffice it to say, Noble, my border collie corgi mix, wasn't my magical cure-all. I soon realized that pet ownership wasn't the best fit for me. As things continued to get worse, I got to the point where I was ready to kill myself. In making my final preparations, I gave Noble to a friend "to watch."
During this time, my friend attempted to get ahold of me several times to give Noble back. Finally, after enough time passed, he contacted my parents. My parents realized something was wrong and confronted me. I finally found myself in a position to ask for help.
Without that dog, there would've been no tip-off to my parents, and I would've ended up enacting a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Animals, especially dogs, have an essential role to play in any therapy or emotionally charged situation. I have seen some of the most "hard" closed off individuals crack right open when they're allowed to pet a dog during their therapy sessions. Chemicals like oxytocin, the love drug, is released when petting/cuddling with an animal.
Research proves that pet-facilitated therapies have shown benefits in relieving distress for patients. According to the 2014 study by Kamioka and Okada, animal interventions with dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs are an effective treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. One could say pets make excellent therapists. Interaction with animals is known to heal broken bodies and minds. The bond between humans and animals can reduce anxiety, lower agitation and improve overall health and wellbeing.
At Framework Recovery, we have two furry employees - Noble (ESA) and Luna. Noble lives at the sober living with the guys and Luna is a certified therapy dog who sits with our clinical director during group and individual therapy.
The office has dog toys and beds galore! Clients are encouraged to play with them, and they love it! We've had several individuals that don't respond very well to couch-style therapy. They really come alive when our clinical director and the client take the dogs for a walk.
We also have two other dogs, Lucy and Sedona, that frequent the office regularly. We find that having furry companions around the office and homes help the clients process better and remove some of the “clinical” feeling from clinical sessions.
At Framework Recovery, we believe the company of pets can provide you with benefits throughout your recovery journey. We want you to be prepared for all aspects of life, and with the assistance of a furry best friend, that can surely help.