Recovering from a substance use disorder, while challenging, can and should be a source of joy. In fact, some of the goals of sobriety include the achievement of peace, happiness, freedom, and connection to others. Quality sober living homes are not hostile places. They aim to make sobriety preferable to relapse, and to that end they work to make the homes hospitable and pleasant.
While it may come as a surprise that sober living homes often allow pets, most treatment programs understand that having relationships with animals can be a source of profound joy. There is also a body of evidence indicating that pets actually improve treatment outcomes for people suffering from addiction.
Benefits of Pet Friendly Sober Living Homes
Over the last few decades, animal interventions have become commonplace. Many classroom environments house pets to teach children important lessons about science, personality responsibility, caring, and love. Animals are used in hospitals to improve the morale and health of patients.
People with disabilities frequently make use of service animals to get through everyday tasks. Research has shown that having a household pet during childhood reduces rates of mental illness over the course of a person’s life. It should come as no surprise that residents of pet friendly sober living homes experience many of the same benefits.
Greater Degrees of Selflessness
12-step-based philosophies of addiction treatment recognize that addiction stems from selfishness and ego. These programs aim to help people look outside of their own self-will for a solution, often urging members to rely on others. The primary message of 12-step programs is that people who suffer from addiction achieve recovery most effectively by listening to and helping other people who suffer from the same condition.
Any activity that helps people look outside of themselves and care for others is therefore conducive to sobriety. Taking care of a pet that requires a high degree of care and love is an unselfish act that trains sober living home residents to let go of their own personal problems, ambitions, and fears.
Taking care of an animal, whether it’s a dog, cat, parakeet, or fish, requires dedication and discipline, qualities that sober living homes work to instill in residents. While urging dedication and discipline in the abstract is often ineffective, presenting residents with an animal whose very livelihood depends on those qualities can work wonders. When sober living homes have dogs, staff generally make sure that residents cooperate to ensure the dog’s needs are met. Residents generally share duties of feeding, grooming, and caring for the creature. This helps residents follow a schedule and learn consistency.
One of the primary reasons people relapse is because they are upset by circumstances out of their control. Part of the recovery process involves learning to accept what one can control, and not react to events that are out of ones control. Pets, even the most wonderful ones, are often frustrating. Your cat may scratch your favorite sofa. Your dog may pee on the carpet. Learning to love your pet despite its unpredictable behavior teaches acceptance, tolerance, and patience — qualities that help people throughout their lives.
Pets Help Residents with Each Other
Entering a sober living home can be a difficult transition initially. Developing connections with fellow residents and building a social support system is one of the most fundamental aspects of addiction recovery. Pets allow residents to engage in group activities together, such as taking a dog for a walk or playing with a ball. Sharing the responsibility and joy of a pet can present opportunities to bond with fellow residents.
Managing Pets in a Sober Living
While many sober living homes do indeed allow pets, most set important rules and guidelines surrounding them. Some pet friendly sober living houses do allow residents to bring their own pets from home, but the majority prefer to have a house pet that is cared for communally by residents.
Many pet friendly sober living homes are also specific about which kinds of animals they will allow. Animals who have not been declawed or spayed, untrained puppies, or enormous creatures are often banned. It should also be understood that pets are the responsibility of residents. If residents fail to train, clean up after, or show loving behavior to animals, sober living homes reserve the right to deny residents access to pets.
Pets at Design for Recovery
Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home for men in Los Angeles, California, is home not only to recovering addicts — but to animals as well. Our pet friendly sober living home in Los Angeles, California is the ideal environment for anyone hoping to withdraw from drugs and alcohol and develop a new life. Residents work to develop social support systems and new coping strategies to avoid relapse.
They also work diligently to develop qualities of tolerance, patience, discipline, and accountability. Taking care of a pet in a sober living home not only provides perfect opportunities for developing these personality traits, it makes the experience of addiction recovery more joyful.