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Service Dogs & Emotional Support Dogs in Substance Abuse Treatment

Going to rehab is a difficult decision, but for those with physical or mental disabilities who rely on a service dog or emotional support dog to get through daily life, the prospect of going to rehab for 30 days or longer can seem impossible. This is why American Addiction Centers now welcomes service or emotional support dogs on a case-by-case basis.

Service Dogs

Service dog sitting next to owner who is attending addiction treatment.

During addiction treatment and rehabilitation, the bond of companionship service dogs can provide, might help ease the anxiety of getting treatment.1 Service dogs are welcome on a case-by-case basis at American Addiction Centers’ treatment facilities.

Service dogs are defined by being able to perform essential actions and tasks for people with disabilities, in addition service dogs must be able to comply to commands in public spaces and in distracting environments.2

Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), service dogs are allowed to go everywhere their owner can go, this includes healthcare facilities; doctor’s offices and patient’s rooms.2 Service dogs are able to aid in navigating and supporting their owner with daily task; giving their owner independence. Some of the tasks service dogs are able to perform are:3

  • Guiding people with visual impairments.
  • Signaling people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.
  • Retrieving items for people with mobility issues.
  • Alerting people during life-threatening conditions such as, cardiac episodes or seizures.

The companionship one has with their service dog can boost an owner’s self-esteem and motivation for self-improvement.3

Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support dog comforting owner who is in addiction treatment.

Going to rehab can be a very stressful time for those suffering from mental health disorders which is why American Addiction Centers will consider allowing emotional support dogs to accompany their owners through treatment.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are animals, dogs being the most popular, that provide support for their owners who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and are in need of daily emotional support and companionship.4 Some mental health disorders like extreme anxiety disorders, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and depression, can make daily tasks extremely difficult without the support of an ESA.

Emotional support dogs do not need to attend obedience training or be able to preform any specific tasks to be qualified as an ESA, but they do have to behave and not cause disturbances in public.5 ESA’s do not have the same rights as service dogs; there are some restrictions on where ESAs are allowed to be, which is stated in the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), FHA (Fair Housing Act), and Rehab Act.

Can I Bring My Dog to Rehab?

Having your furry four-legged companion by your side can provide comfort for those about to start or that are currently in addiction treatment. Each rehab facility sets its own rules so to learn more about bringing your service dog or emotional support dog with you to treatment, please call

Find Rehabs That May Be Pet Friendly

Our Treatment Centers by State

Is Rehab Covered by Insurance?

Insurance may be able to cover at least part of the cost of rehab and this will depend on your insurance coverage provider. Use our online verification form below to see if insurance may be able to cover the cost of treatment.


  1. United Service Dog. (n.d.). Relationship with Service Dog.
  2. U.S. Department of Justice: Civil Rights Division; Disability Rights Section. (2011). ADA Requirements, Service Animals.
  3. Canine Partners for Life. (2019). Benefits of Service Dogs.
  4. American Disability Rights, Inc. (n.d.). Emotional support animals help Americans with mental disabilities: Types of ESAs.
  5. ESA Doctors. (2018). Emotional Support Animal Regulations and Rules.
Last Updated on November 16, 2021
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