The benefits of having a pet are widely known. Caring for an animal, typically a dog or cat, has been proven to lower blood pressure, extend longevity and help heal disease, both mental and physical. Studies are now beginning to show that building a relationship with a pet can also help treat addiction and mental disorder. The reasons for this is caring for an animal teaches a person the responsibility of having a dependent, how to build trust and communication and how to open their heart to a companion.
Learning to be responsible for an animal teaches a person how to schedule things such as meal times and walks and how to stay on top of tasks such as veterinary visits and training. This is important in the healing of addiction and mental disorders in a number of ways. It calls the afflicted person to put their pet’s needs before their own, which teaches coping skills in order to move past issues having to do with the self.
Building trust and communication with an animal can teach a person a lot about relationship skills, which is important to beating an addiction or a mental disorder. Caring properly for an animal will win its trust, and the animal will show its trust in its behavior. Animals never put on a front and will not show you trust unless you have earned it. Communicating with your pet requires patience and effort, as it does in human relationships. You cannot force or rush communication with your pet. The animal must be trained diligently over a period of time to understand your commands.
And lastly, one of the most important things that owning a pet can teach an addict or a person with a mental disorder is how to open their heart and be vulnerable with another creature. We come to love our pets very much, and this emotion can be challenging to people who have hurt in their pasts. However, when a person embraces the love they have for their pet, it enriches their lives and gives them a feeling of purpose. Owning a pet is time consuming and challenging, but the rewards it offers can make a huge difference in the life of an addict or a person with a mental disorder.