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Animal-Assisted Activities for Addiction Treatment

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Vertava Health Animal Assisted Treatment InteriorAnimal-assisted activities to promote healing has become increasingly popular in recent years. It can help treat a number of different mental health conditions, and some people have begun to use it to aid in the recovery process for substance use disorders as well. As a result, we are proud to provide an animal-assisted therapy program at Vertava Health.

Regular interaction with animals may provide numerous benefits for some people. These benefits include lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, reduced stress, and increased physical activity. Spending time with animals may also positively affect a person’s mental health.

Animal-assisted activities are not a standalone treatment for addiction. Instead, they are used in combination with other forms of treatment and may maximize the overall results of treatment and increase a person’s motivation to stay in treatment.

How Do Animal-Assisted Activities Work?

When used in treating substance use disorders, animal-assisted activities often involve including a trained animal in individual and group sessions. During the sessions, individuals can interact with trained animals. Patients must agree to participate in animal-assisted activities, and not every patient qualifies.

Before patients begin interacting with the animal, we will provide education regarding the specific type of animal and the best way to approach the animal. For example, the animal’s body language and behaviors will be explained, so the patient knows what to expect. Additionally, patients will learn which parts of the animal they can touch and which parts they should avoid.
Common animals that participate in animal-assisted activity programs may include:

Potential Benefits Of Animal-Assisted Programs for Addiction

Incorporating animal-assisted activities for substance use treatment may have a number of benefits for some people when used in combination with evidence-based therapies. Animal-assisted activities may help reduce a person’s anxiety surrounding treatment. Many people struggle with the thought of long-term sobriety and may experience anxiety during treatment as a result. Incorporating animal activities into a treatment program may help ease a person’s tension and promote a person’s willingness to participate in treatment.

Additionally, animal-assisted activities may support addiction treatment by providing the opportunity to use touch to help reduce distress and anxiety. Staff members are generally unable to touch patients physically, but physical touch has provided reassurance and support, especially in a treatment environment. Touching animals physically may help ease anxiety and promote feelings of closeness and safety.

Animal-assisted activities may provide support in other areas of recovery as well. For some people, this form of treatment may be shown to boost confidence and improve a person’s overall mood during treatment. This may increase the likelihood of a patient successfully completing a treatment program.

Are Animal-Assisted Activities Right for You?

When combined with evidence-based modalities, animal-assisted activities may be an effective part of treatment for a wide variety of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. However, it is not suited for everyone.

People who should not participate in animal-assisted activities include:

Speaking with a staff member beforehand can help determine if animal-assisted activities are right for you. This service is only part of a comprehensive approach to recovery from addiction.

Learn More About Treatment at Vertava Health

Some people can benefit from animal-assisted activities as part of their treatment plan. To learn more about animal-assisted activities for addiction treatment, contact a Vertava Health admissions specialist at 844.311.8395 today.