Therapy Dogs, Addiction & Mental Health
Dogs really are man’s best friend. Full of unconditional love, loyalty, and depending on their health, age, breed, and personality, full of playfulness. Dogs have served as both service and emotional support animals for the longest. And when it comes to our canine friends working with those in recovery from an alcohol or substance use disorder, an individual couldn’t choose more genuine friends than therapy dogs.
American Addiction Centers (AAC) approaches individuals battling substance misuse with compassion and a team of professionals and licensed physicians in a caring environment. And at some AAC facilities, individuals are able to bring their service or emotional support dogs for the added support through their sobriety process. However, each facility has its own requirements, so find out details ahead of time. If you’re struggling with substance misuse, please reach out for the help you need today.
Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs & Emotional Support Dogs?
What is the difference between the three? Many have heard of and seen service dogs either in person or on television helping an impaired individual.
A service dog is trained to complete tasks that help their handler’s impairments. As a team, the service dog supports their owner’s independence and helps them to be safe. And according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the rights of individuals with impairments accompanied with a service dog in public settings is protected. This includes locations such as grocery stores, hotels, and restaurants. The focus is on taking care of their handler, and many owners discourage others from petting their service dogs.
Like service dogs, therapy dogs also receive training. However, their responsibilities are distinct. They provide physiological or psychological therapy to not only their handlers, but to others as well. They tend to visit hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, daycares, group homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers. They’re friendly, their temperaments are stable, and they are encouraged to interact with different people even while with their handler.
Therapy dogs require a certification, and their disposition needs to be gentle, friendly, at ease, and patient in all situations. This is because they are constantly in contact with a variety of people, and with certainty, they must be comfortable with the amount of human interaction required of them.
Emotional support animals (ESA) (usually dogs) can be used as part of a medical treatment plan. They may offer companionship and offer support for phobias, depression, anxiety, and may even relieve loneliness. However, they are not trained to complete tasks for individuals with impairments and they are not considered service animals under the American Disabilities Act.
If you find yourself struggling with a substance use disorder, an alcohol use disorder, and a co-occurring condition such as depression, help is available. And if you would like to bring your service or emotional support animal or therapy dog to treatment, options may be available. You don’t have to walk along this journey on your own. AAC is here to take these steps with you. Please reach out to get the help you need today.