Very often, whether or not we are aware, our emotions influence the choices we make. Substance use disorders (SUD) are a great example of the link between emotions and chosen behaviors. Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that only 2% of the general population who do not have a mental disorder struggle with a SUD. Almost all people with SUD have mental health concerns, such as anxiety, stress, or depression. An emotional support animal might be able to help.
If you suffer from a substance use disorder caused by an emotional or mental health issue, see if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal online by clicking the link below. We can help connect you to a licensed therapist licensed for your state.
Emotional Support Animal for Sobriety
Because people with SUD also struggle with their emotional and mental health, an emotional support animal (ESA) can help make a difference. Having an animal to provide a source of comfort and support can assist in managing emotional health, and therefore keeping a person focused on remaining sober. A healthcare professional can assess the need for an ESA and formally incorporate an ESA into a person’s treatment plan for recovery by issuing a legitimate ESA letter.
How Emotional Support Animals Help with Sobriety
As an ESA is a necessary and documented part of a person’s treatment plan, it becomes much more than a household pet. The benefits of having an ESA for sobriety transcends comfort and warmth; they provide more than what’s immediately apparent.
1. Creating Routine
An emotional support animal requires routine feedings and grooming. The owner develops a bond that pushes them to provide the best care possible for the animal. For example, an ESA dog can encourage a person in recovery to wake up in the morning for walks, come home in the evening for feedings, and schedule dog park outings on the weekends. A sense of routine and stability is essential for recovery, which an ESA can provide.
2. Establishing Accountability and Responsibility
The routine created around an ESA boils down to accountability and responsibility. Forming a bond with an animal means that caring for the animal becomes an expectation and a priority. The ESA’s well-being depends on the person in recovery, providing an incentive and motivation to remain sober so they can meet the needs of their ESA. By doing so, an ESA establishes a sense of responsibility that other treatment options might not be able to do.
3. Building Trust
People with a SUD may struggle to build trust. Because an ESA requires care and depends on its owner, trust becomes established early on. Observing this trust from an ESA can offer a person in recovery the proof they need, confirming that they are worthy of trust and can trust others in return.
4. Distraction from Cravings and Triggers
Coming home to an empty house or apartment may be difficult for people in recovery. The silence and loneliness can lead to cravings, leaving them more susceptible to triggers. Having an ESA near them can distract from these cravings, allowing a person to focus on their animal instead. The routine and responsibility of caring for an ESA can keep cravings and triggers at bay.
5. Serves as a Protective Factor
All too often, people with a SUD may see their substance abuse history as shameful. This shame can affect their self-confidence and self-esteem, making them dislike the person they are. An ESA can bring brightness into low periods of self-doubt, giving a person the positivity they need to persevere through recovery. In this way, ESAs serve as protective factors, helping to counter the negative impact of SUD.
Rights of an Emotional Support Animal
An additional benefit of an ESA is its ability to live with a person, even in housing that prohibits pets. Because an ESA can be considered a formal part of a person’s treatment and recovery plan, an ESA falls under federal laws. Living with an ESA requires a formal letter from a licensed healthcare professional stating that the animal is a documented part of a person’s treatment plan.
An Emotional Support Animal for Sobriety
Research proves that a human-animal bond is a useful tool for recovery for SUD and physical and mental health issues. Animals provide warmth and comfort, but they can also teach trust, responsibility, and loyalty. When an ESA is part of a person’s treatment plan, the lessons learned can be vital to recovery and have an overall positive impact on the individual’s life.
Drug and alcohol addiction can tear a person’s life apart. Providing them with all the tools they need to put their lives back together may mean thinking outside the box. Recovery is a long and challenging but worthwhile process. Having a trusty, loving emotional support animal by their side can make it more bearable.