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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

5 Great Ways My Dog Helped Me With Recovery

Did you know owning a pet can help with Addiction Recovery?

Around the time I decided I wanted to quit using, I saw an ad giving away free lab/huskie puppies. I usually don’t read the newspaper but that day I was bored at my grandmother’s house and decided to look at the newspaper when I came across the ad giving away free puppies. Right away I knew I wanted a dog, although at the time I had no idea how significant a role she would have in my recovery. They can do great things for someone struggling with addiction. It might just be that little bit of extra help that keeps them on the path to recovery.

However, I can’t stress how important it is to be absolutely sure you can take care of them forever. It’s very hard on a dog to get rehomed and they do not deserve to be neglected. I’d suggest adopting with someone who can take over if anything should happen. Whether it be a parent or a significant other make sure they’re responsible and stable. Other great options are volunteering at a shelter, fostering for a shelter, or babysitting a friend’s dog. At least this way you can take care of a dog before you decide if it’s the right decision for you. There’s also plenty of different pets to choose from.

The 5 ways my dog Maggie helped with my addiction recovery:

1. My dog eased my stress and anxiety

Spending time with an animal has shown to reduce stress. This is important to recovery because stress and anxiety are some of the most common triggers that lead to using. Petting Maggie helped my body release tension which eased that feeling of pressure that stress can have. It feels similar to meditation in some ways. I became more relaxed and I was able to think more clearly.

2. My dog taught me responsibility

Pets depend on us for their survival. If we don’t feed them they won’t eat. There’s a strong bond that forms when we are responsible for someone’s survival. Being responsible for Maggies survival brought out strength in me I didn’t know I had. I had to think about someone else besides myself and budget money for her food every month.

3. My dog helped me keep a routine

Stability and some kind of routine is important in recovery. It helps create a sense of safety and helps reduce stress. If I didn’t take her out to do her business she would do it in the house so I had to have some kind of routine with her. I wouldn’t have been able to train her not to go in the house if I didn’t take her out regularly and I couldn’t just leave for long periods at a time without her.

4. My dog gave me unconditional love

Animals don’t judge or discriminate. They don’t care that you were an addict or that you did things you’re ashamed of in the past. They don’t care how you look or if you’re poor all they want is your attention and some food. They will always be happy to see you. Unconditional love like that helped heal things I didn’t even know were broken. It helped me start loving myself again.

5. My dog gave me companionship

Addiction can sometimes make us feel alone, like no one understands us. It was difficult to open up to people but not my dog. She was always there for me. Never too busy for a cuddle or to listen to me talked. She helped me get out of the house and go on walks. She helped me have fun and enjoy the smaller things around me. She was a great dog and I miss her so much.

For more great addiction recovery articles check out A Recovering Addicts Experience

Yours truly, Chelsie Charmed