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Caring for a pet prepares many skills you need in addiction recovery.

Outside the Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, there’s a statue of a dog called Greyfriars Bobby. Little Bobby kept watch over his master’s grave for 14 years in the 19th century, and all his visitors today make sure to reward him with a rub on the snout. Like many devoted pets, Bobby served his owner better than anyone had known. But did you know that pets do just that for those in addiction recovery?

Oh yes, a wagging tail or a purr in your ear can do more than we tend to understand. Many of you readers at In The Rooms already care for your own pets. Maybe you’ve already seen the benefits from your relationship with a dog or cat or bird.

We’ll outline a few ways that pets help support continued recovery. We’ve already written about how animals assist addiction treatment and therapy, and so you can think of this article as a companion to suit your ongoing recovery each day.

A Pet Can De-Stress Your Recovery

There’s something blissful about your pet enjoying your company, whether it’s a dog with her head in your lap, or a cat brushing his body against your leg. That something is stress relief: being with your pet can measurably de-stress you. Here’s a snapshot:

  1. 55% of people reported feeling better after petting their dog in a UK study
  2. 87% of people reported that owning a cat improved their mental health (in another UK study)
  3. 74% of owners reported that having a pet improved their mental health

As you see, there’s plenty of good that a pet can do for your mind. And when you’ve undertaken lifelong addiction recovery, a centered and peaceful mind is crucial. Why not get that support from a cuddly, affectionate pet?

A Pet Can Direct Your Recovery

When you own a pet, you form certain routines. Your dog might spend thirty minutes nosing into your leg when it’s time to eat. Your cat will certainly pounce on you three minutes before your morning alarm. These things can become a daily structure.

Taking care of your pet can become a daily purpose. Not that it should take the place of continuing your own recovery, but it can be good practice. Taking care of your pet each day can teach you a little about taking care of yourself each day. The little purpose a pet provides parallels the larger purpose of staying the course of your recovery.

A Pet Can Commit Your Recovery

This last note ties into the purpose we just mentioned. When you choose to own a pet, you choose to commit to their safety, care and future. That means committing your own time, patience and money.
Just like your recovery’s direction, completing the daily commitment to your pet might be good practice for completing the daily commitment to your recovery. Note: the first shouldn’t overtake the second. But if you can walk your dog or clean up after your cat each day, you can attend your peer meetings or choose your best recovery strategies each day. Your commitment to your pet can help you strengthen your commitment to your recovery.

So What Now?

Maybe you’d like to take on a pet. Or, if you already own a pet, you’ll feel nice and vindicated. After all, caring for them can help de-stress, direct and commit your ongoing recovery (all the more reason to love animals). But if you’d like to adopt your first pet, find an animal shelter near you. Rescuing a pet is one small way to give out second chances.

And for your continued addiction recovery, see how In The Rooms can serve you today. If you sign up for free, you’ll get access to dozens of online peer meetings! Let us help you commit to your lifelong recovery today.

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels


  1. Angela Tollstrup Reply

    I’m allergic to all animals . Hate to say this but I’ve been threw the ringer and was planning on killing myself . My
    Mom grandma and mother in law all passed right next to each other and wife of twenty years comes home high on meth with her new man and leaves me and takes the triplets. Homeless, Strangers took me in they have three dogs and nine puppies I was breaking out and asthma this lil pup bout two weeks old pit, boxer, and lab climbs up my pants and up to my neck paws over my shoulder and licking my ear . Granted I’m mad cause I can’t breath breaking out so this goes on for a week with this pup and I tell God if I meant to be here then make me not allergic to this dog and I’ll stay and I’ll give this bitch a name . Less then 12 hr later I’m completely healed if u seen my sores one would know it’s not possible I was trippin so I pet this pup rub my eyes nothing I even lick her fur nothing so I named her piper. I’m homeless but if she can’t go or stay neither will I she saved me and gave me life and shown me selfless love without no threats or harm. Feel in love day one neve loved anything so much so quick and I dint have to worry bout her leaving me lying to me it’s all pure . So I’m my addiction of course. I spend a lot of my tome with her homeless living in the wild literally and I noticed the other day that I haven’t really did any dope or craved it. I care only bout her how I got to make us safe food water etc so my money goes mainly goes for those instead of drugs . When I cry she comes and licks me everywhere and gives me a lil bite to play with her and take my mind of it.
    I have to agree bout a pet in recovery . That’s why I’m here fighting another day
    Thank you

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