It may seem counterintuitive that having one or more pets could help you stay sober. At a time when you need to work on yourself, how can taking care of a pet help? There is evidence to suggest that having a pet can be helpful in maintaining sobriety, providing more unconditional love and support than even many people can offer.

Here are some of the ways that pets can help you stay sober.

1. Pets Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

Stress during addiction recovery can trigger a recurrence of substance use, but talking to and stroking a pet can be soothing and calming, thereby lowering stress levels. Even just watching fish swim has been shown to lower blood pressure. Unlike many other stress reduction techniques, petting, talking to or even just looking at a pet comes naturally and is easy to do.

2. Pets Can Make You More Responsible.

You typically have to be more aware of what time it is, what day it is and what is going on around you when you have a pet. You have to be around more often when you have a dog to feed and let outside, a cat that needs a clean litter box or even a hamster that needs its cage cleaned every few days to stay healthy.

You cannot stay away for days at a time with a pet at home that depends on you. Knowing that your pet needs you can help you stay accountable and responsible for both your well-being and the well-being of your pet.

3. Pets Do Not Judge You

You may get negative feedback from friends and family members after a stay in rehab, but your pet is typically really happy to see you. When you have a bad day, your pet might treat you the same as always.

Having the unconditional love and acceptance of a pet can make a big difference when you feel like everyone you know is judging you for your battle with a substance use disorder, and it can give you the strength to continue with sobriety instead of feeling like your efforts are worthless.

Man shown hugging a cat

4. Pets Can Satisfy Needs for Touch

There is healing power in touch. But it can be difficult to satisfy this need with some people. Not everyone is a hugger, and even many intimate relationships do not involve enough regular touch to promote healing. Many pets cannot get enough petting and cuddling. Physical touch can be a huge boost to your healing process.

5. Pets Can Take Your Mind Off Your Troubles

When in recovery, it is so easy to experience sadness about the state of your life, what your addiction costs you and how much more difficult life is now. Depression is a reality for many after rehab because of changes in the brain. Pets can distract you from these troubling issues and focus you on happier things and positive thoughts about the future.

Getting a pet is but one of many aftercare strategies that can help you with long-term sobriety and recovery. For more information about these strategies and other aspects of treatment, contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake today to speak with an intake specialist.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.