When you think about who might be on the staff at a substance use treatment facility like Wooded Glen Recovery Center, you probably picture high-quality administrative and maintenance staff and a team of addiction professionals that includes licensed and certified counselors, social workers, nurses, and medical doctors. You would—quite rightly—expect those folks to specialize in substance use disorder recovery. The member of the Wooded Glen team you might not be expecting? Why, that would be Nala, our therapy dog.
We Are Not Just Chasing Our Own Tail
You might assume that Nala is the office pet. A four-footed cutie who is fun to have around.
But that underestimates our canine colleague, who is actually highly trained to help individuals struggling with substance use disorders, mental health disorders, or both.
It is entirely accurate to think of Nala as comparable to a therapist or doctor. Nala interacts with a variety of people and can help each individual with their individual issues. And like a human doctor or therapist, Nala sees folks on a regular appointment schedule.
Spending time with Nala can provide a range of benefits, including a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression, a strong sense of having a social support system to help cope with stress, a feeling of being supported when working through trauma or dealing with a crisis, and more.
A Regular Ol’ Everyday Pet Can Help, Too
Nala, as we have established, is a professional—highly trained, adaptable, and good at her job. Many people who seek treatment at Wooded Glen Recovery Center benefit from her presence.
But you don’t necessarily need a therapy animal at home to get some real benefits. A dog or a cat (or a rabbit, a fish, a lizard, etc.) can provide significant support for your recovery and overall well-being.
Having a furry (or not so furry) friend is known to have mental health benefits—in no small part because they offer unconditional love and can be just the kind of listener you need to talk through your stressors. A pet can also provide a great distraction when you are struggling with cravings, help you get more active (depending, of course, on the type of pet you choose), and encourage an ongoing sense of responsibility as you care for your animal.
Choosing the right pet for you is very important, so take into account things like your tolerance for noise, the amount of time you have available for pet care, and the various costs associated with pets.
If your current situation does not allow for a pet at this time, some other options can still provide benefits. You could:
- Volunteer to be a pet sitter or a dog walker for your friends (or even find some paying clients).
- Volunteer at an animal shelter–which can provide you with lots of time with animals even if it is not the right time to bring one into your home and also can provide the support to your recovery that comes from service.
- Spend time in the natural world (maybe, for example, in Clark State Forest) and take in the sights—including animals who make their homes in your area.
Animals Are Not For Everyone
We want to note here that we understand not everyone loves animals. In fact, a fair number of people are afraid of one animal or another. Others are allergic to various critters. You might be among those for whom animals are not particularly appealing. That is perfectly okay.
You can be sure that if you seek treatment for a substance use disorder at Wooded Glen Recovery Center and animals just aren’t your thing, Nala will not take it personally.
Similarly, while you may recognize the potential benefits of having a pet or spending more time around animals, you may also be well aware that animals make you uncomfortable. In that case, the smart move is to find other ways to support your mental well-being and recovery efforts.
All of Us—Including Nala—Are Ready to Welcome You
It can be hard to admit that you need help. But at Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, all of us are committed to compassionate care grounded in evidence and expertise. You won’t feel judged while regaining your sobriety. Nala wouldn’t stand for it.