Animal-assisted therapy in substance use disorder

Animal Assisted Addiction Rehab Therapy –


Making an animal happy is not necessarily a complicated task. But, when humans care for animals and make them happy, there comes an immediate sense of gratification. The expert suboxone doctors in New Bedford inform that animals can enhance therapeutic healing in human beings. 

Animal-assisted therapy gained legitimacy in the therapy community during the early 1990s. However, significant discoveries were made in this sphere by Florence Nightingale in the late 1800s. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, incorporated his pet Jofi (a dog) into some of his cultured psychotherapy sessions with clients. It is a lesser-known fact, but true.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, animal-assisted therapy reached the lives of some of the prominent healing workers, including Sigmund Freud and Florence Nightingale, not because of the mere fact that humans love animals but due to its practical benefits.

Benefits of animal-assisted therapy

According to the suboxone doctors near me, animal-assisted therapy has the following benefits:

  • Improves mood of the surrounding individuals
  • Promotes positive emotions 
  • Develops empathetic skills
  • It makes individuals more expressive
  • Improves social interactions
  • Boosts confidence and improves communication skills
  • Eases anxiety
  • Reduces depression, loneliness, insecurity, social isolation, anger, and other negative emotions
  • Relieves sublocade withdrawal symptoms (beneficial for individuals who go for therapy alongside MAT)

The study conducted in Psychology Today reveals that animal-assisted therapy is essentially beneficial in improving an individual’s psychological health. People who participated in these therapy sessions were shown to have mental health improvement within six months. The participants said that they were able to:

  • Live in the present moment
  • Feel less regretful
  • Feel less weighted down with worries
  • Decrease feelings of bitterness towards others
  • Feel less guilty about their behaviour
  • Have a comparatively better and positive future outlook
  • Be less afraid of the future
  • Feel more independent and in control of things
  • Be more self-supportive

Another benefit of animal-assisted therapy is that it can reduce additional expenses such as the sublocade cost.

How is animal-assisted therapy included in substance abuse recovery?

According to the suboxone clinic near me, the animals employed in the substance abuse recovery programs include but aren’t limited to cats, dogs, horses, llama, dolphins, rabbits, wolves, and donkeys. A drug rehab center may organize an animal visit at a pre-decided schedule for a therapy session, or the center may have permanent shelters for animals.

Licensed therapists lead Animal-assisted therapy sessions. The therapist handles the particular species of animal involved in the session, guides the patients on how to treat the animals, discusses the animal’s general behaviour, and provides other important information. 

The experts at sublocade treatment centers inform that equine-therapy and canine-therapy are the most common offerings in drug recovery programs. Here, we will focus on just canine-assisted therapy.

Canine-assisted therapy

Therapists who provide canine-assisted therapy found that participants were more open to discussion when iterating with a dog. Information such as their feelings, personal history, past trauma, family dynamics, etc., was voluntarily revealed by the participants. The suboxone doctors say that the disclosures were no less than an achievement because it pointed out that recovering patients sometimes have difficulty working with a staff member as they are considered authoritative figures. 

The breed of dog involved in the session also influenced the nature of disclosures. For example, when pitbull was involved, patients were more likely to discuss their history of violence and animal cruelty exposure. Since Pitbulls are used as fighting dogs or guard dogs, they are considered victims, and it motivated them to discuss their history of victimhood.

The experts at the suboxone clinic say that the participants’ effective interaction with dogs and the ability to communicate easily is significant because anger, resentment, and the inability to express emotions are the essential experiences underlying substance addiction.


According to the suboxone clinic in New Bedford, animal-assisted therapy may not necessarily replace drug recovery approaches like MATs, but it serves as an efficient auxiliary program component. Animal-assisted treatment (like the canine-assisted therapy discussed above) aims to identify pain sources, open up communication, build trust, and help participants develop healthy coping skills.