What is a Pet-Friendly Drug Rehab?

Pet-Friendly Drug RehabA pet-friendly drug rehab center is a drug and alcohol inpatient treatment facility that allows individuals struggling with dependency to bring their pets to treatment with them. Often, this means that the pet stays with the individual for the length of their residential treatment program. During this time, the pet will stay in the person’s rooms and be cared for by the owner. 

Releasing the hold that drug addiction has on you by going into treatment can be a mentally exhausting event. You might find lots of obstacles in your way as you try to free yourself from this disease and begin a fresh, substance-free life. 


One of those obstacles that often keep a person from going into treatment is the thought of leaving their pet, the main psychological support in their life, at home. While treatment facilities are trying to expand their programs and offerings, the issue of pets in treatment centers is an issue that is being discussed more often. 

It’s not recommended that you bring family members or significant others to the treatment facility with you. This is because you need to focus your attention and commitment on your recovery, not on their existence in your program. Psychological support can be received from other loved ones — your pets.

How Do Pets Help in Recovery?

There are many treatments and therapies you can take part in as part of your recovery process. All you have to do is look for centers that include animals or family pets. Animals can be helpful and have a healing ability even when they’re in a treatment program for addiction. People with family pets, of any type, may build deep relationships for many reasons, including:

Unconditional Love

Everyone knows that pets love unconditionally, which makes the relationship between owner and animal a major source of convenience and peace of mind when fighting drug or alcohol addiction. 

Time Investment

People with drug dependency can invest lengthy amounts of time with pets in such a way that doesn’t tend to be possible with most other individuals. Also, pets provide a healthy distraction from the difficulties that come with abstinence and taking part in a treatment program.


Sometimes, an individual’s family members, friends, or other loved ones have conflicted feelings about the addiction. They might be holding on to some bitterness or feelings of being disappointed. But your pet won’t hold your addiction against you. This honest acceptance is another benefit throughout the process of recovery.

Relief from Loneliness

Recovery is an intense journey that may make you feel lonely. Having an animal go to treatment with you reassures that you have a dedicated companion always ready as an outlet for de-stressing. You’re able to express feelings of loneliness, disappointments, or even generally having a good time with your animal friend.

Lifting Spirits

Many pets have generous natures and a similar effect on their owners. This can make their owners smile and generally lift their spirits. Your pet can raise the serotonin levels in your brain just by wagging their tail or licking your cheek. 

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of happiness, and well being. This is a way of raising your spirits during what can be a mentally draining progress. Having a pet nearby while going through recovery may help fight the drop in serotonin levels that many recovering addicts experience.

Sense of Responsibility

Bringing a pet to an animal-friendly treatment center helps an individual restore or re-establish feelings of responsibility. You’re responsible for making sure the pet has enough food and water, is kept clean, taken on walks, etc. As a result, this motivates a person in recovery to build a new, productive routine along with accountability and responsibility. 

Relapse Prevention

There are many physical, emotional, and health benefits that come with pet ownership. These benefits can be a source of strength for individuals struggling with addiction. Animals give a sense of stability and love to the addict who feels they don’t have confidence or respect. In these cases, animals may save people from losing control in difficult times or relapsing during the recovery process.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal therapy has actually become popular as a sub-type of psychological methods that offer a basic, non-threatening way of advocacy and self-confidence. People who are connected to their animals will find that in a substance-free life in a pet-friendly drug rehab facility, they will have moments when their pet’s silent love will give them the boost they need to advance in recovery.

Treatment within facilities that allow dogs or other animals can be found in many forms. If you’re attached to your pet and you think it might help you through this difficult time, a pet-friendly program will fit your needs in several ways. 

Service Animals

If you can’t find a treatment facility that allows you to bring your pet, or, you find that it’s not going to be practical, you may want to attend one that offers animal-assisted therapy. This therapy is one that includes interaction with service animals as a form of addiction treatment. It is usually easier to find a treatment center that offers animal-assisted therapy than one that allows you to bring your own pet.

Animal-assisted therapy is an experiential type of therapy and can have many benefits for people in treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. The most common animals used in this therapy include horses and dogs. However, there are other types of animals used occasionally. It varies from facility to facility.

What is a Pet-Friendly Drug Rehab?

Treatment With Your Pet

Some treatment centers allow your pets to stay in your room with you throughout your stay. However, not all pet-friendly drug rehab centers allow pets in a long-term program. Likewise, they may not allow pets to participate in every part of your rehabilitation. So it’s important to look into your treatment center’s policies. Still, here are some ways that your pet can help you through addiction treatment:

  • Scheduled visits
  • Therapy pets and group visits
  • Stay at the facility while cared for by animal handler
  • Long-term, in-room stay
  • Exercise with pets
  • Relaxation and pet walks
  • Socialization

What Kind of Animals are Allowed in Pet-Friendly Drug Rehab?

The most common type of pet allowed at a treatment center is dogs. However, there are some facilities that allow cats. Typically, these are the only two types of pets allowed in a treatment program.

To bring your dog or cat into your treatment facility, you will have to provide records that show your pet has their shots up-to-date and any other paperwork related to your pet’s health. If you don’t have this information, you probably won’t be able to bring your pet to the facility.

How Does a Pet-Friendly Facility Work?

Most centers that allow pets require the owner to look after their pets on their own. This means that your pet is your complete responsibility. You should be ready to bring your pet’s food, bowls, toys, and any other supplies you might need for your stay.

You’ll also have to supervise your pet’s behavior to make sure it doesn’t disrupt other residents. Many facilities require residents who choose to bring their pets to stay in a private room. This can be more expensive than sharing a room with another resident.

Pet Benefits to Women

Roni Beth Tower Ph.D. conducted a study that looked at the benefits to the well-being of having a dog or cat for 2,291 Americans. The study found that single women who had a dog or cat had the fewest symptoms of depression of any group. This is even after considering age, education, income, and whether they had children.

After examining the results further, it was found that pets did not help minimize negative feelings as much as they increased positive feelings. Looking at gender differences in response to stress, it was revealed that single males might prefer not to be attached to a domestic animal or anything that restricts their freedom. For a woman, the attachment provides an opportunity to love and nurture. Therefore, for a man it’s a burden, and for a woman it’s an opportunity.

 In the most difficult times of addiction treatment, pets give women:

  • Meaning: Pets need you and provide a feeling that you contribute something important by caring for another living creature.
  • Understanding: Your pet seems to know how you’re feeling, even when you don’t want to recognize it yourself. It knows how to make you laugh when you’re sad and play when you’re angry.
  • Comfort: Your pet’s cuddling and soft fuzzy snuggling can stir your hormones and help you remember the good feeling of connecting with another life.

Depression and Stress

All of these feelings are cures for the feelings of loneliness, sadness, and isolation, so it’s no surprise that pets can be an immense help for women with depression. Depression is often an underlying cause or co-occurring condition of substance abuse for women.  Similarly, stress has been proven to be a trigger to use drugs or alcohol, as well as a cause of relapse. 

Pet-Friendly Drug Rehab at New Directions for Women

The constant support that a pet can reveal through love and friendship could be critical to your success throughout addiction treatment. You have made the difficult choice to get into treatment and we applaud you. At New Directions we know how difficult it is. We also know that it can become frustrating when you’re trying to find a pet-friendly treatment center. Well, we are a pet-friendly treatment center, specifically for women.

New Directions for Women is experienced in treating women of all ages and in all circumstances, and we’re looking forward to helping you. If you wish to bring your pet along to treatment, please contact us to find out our policies. You have questions and we are always available to give you answers.