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5 Ways Dogs Support our Sobriety

By: Carol Morriscey

Dogs offer unconditional love and encourage responsibility, constantly supporting your sobriety, both during and following addition treatment. 1. A Sober Companion

Having someone to participate in sober activities with is a huge factor in remaining sober. A dog is a sober companion you can count on to partake in fun activities. Having a dog helps us recognize the many sober activities which are available, helping you to avoid the situations which may trigger drug use.

2. Unconditional Love

Support, compassion and love are necessary for a successful recovery from drug addiction. A dog is able to offer this love and support, unconditionally. Your dog is not disappointed in you if you have a lapse, and will not give up on you. Having such support helps a lapse from becoming a relapse. Further, the unconditional relationship with your dog will strengthen your capacity for self-forgiveness. The ability to look past your mistakes and to continue believing in yourself and your ability to persevere in your journey to recovery and sobriety will be indispensable in maintaining your sobriety. Self-compassion, self-love, and support are necessary for a successful recovery from addiction, and are supported through your relationship with your dog.

3. Improved Communication Skills and Improved Relationships

When Animal Therapy was introduced to a drug rehab, it was found that the patients’ communication with others improved as a result of their interactions with the dogs. Through easy and comfortable interactions with the dogs they were able to address their verbal and non-verbal communication styles, which had previously caused problems. Having a dog after leaving drug rehab will help to promote your reintegration into normal life, through improved communication with your support system.

Not only do interactions with dogs help your communication skills, but they also help you meet new people. When recovering from addiction, it can be very difficult to remain sober if you remain in the same social network which encouraged your drug use in the first place. Therefore, forming new social networks which support your sobriety is often an important step in remaining sober. Dogs help you meet new people, rebuilding a safe social group with common interests.

4. An Exercise Buddy

Exercise has been shown to support recovering addicts by restoring pre-addiction levels of neurochemicals in the brain, introducing daily routines, and helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having a companion who is always eager to get out and get some exercise will help inspire you to exercise more frequently. A dog will always be ready to go for a run or hike, and may even join in on some downward dog in an at-home yoga session. A nice walk after dinner, or an early morning hike will help restore a balance in your life, helping you to remain sober.

5. Dogs Require Your Care, Inspiring Responsibility

Having a dog will help hold you accountable in fulfilling your responsibilities and remaining sober. After all, it’s hard to blow off your responsibilities when those responsibilities have puppy-dog eyes. Having a dog helps us re-learn responsibility. Your dog is completely reliant on you and your care. Just one night of not coming home, and your puppy will be hungry and alone. Your dog will give you a good reason to want to stay sober, to be able to take care of them.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals