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Animal-Assisted Therapy

Addiction is a challenge that has existed for quite some time. People from all walks of life have been affected by addiction to drugs and the struggles that coincide with them. The causes of addiction differ, but some of the effects are the same.

Various therapies and treatments exist to help people overcome addiction. Those who need treatment can utilize their respective insurance coverage and resources to obtain the addiction help they need. As it relates to our study, we will delve into the practice and treatment of animal-assisted therapy. This form of treatment involves exercises and activities that involve the utilization of animals in the course of treatment.

What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is an intervention that seeks to achieve a specific goal and objective through participation and interaction with an animal.2 This is a rather unique form of drug addiction therapy, but studies have shown it to be effective. The current landscape of AAT found its modern origin over 55 years ago, pioneered by Boris Levinson and Elizabeth and Samuel Corson.3 These pioneers identified the therapeutic power of the human-animal connection.3

The main environments for intervention are neuro-rehabilitation, education, mental health, geriatrics, gerontology, and prison or hospital contexts.2 These animals, through interaction with the patient, achieve the therapeutic objectives of the treatment, promoting various activities to address rehabilitation targets, such as cognitive, emotional-affective, social, or linguistic improvement.2

Find Out If Your Insurance Plan Covers Animal-Assisted Therapy in Addiction Treatment

AAC can help people recover from alcohol or drug misuse and substance use disorders. To find out if your insurance covers treatment for you or your loved one, including programs that use animal-assisted therapy, at an AAC facility, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.

Types of Animal Therapy

AAT can be used in several settings and comes in several forms, whether it be in an individualized or group setting. This type of therapy can be performed with different animals, such as dogs, cats, dolphins, or horses. Animal-assisted therapy comes in different forms, including horse-assisted therapy (HAT), dog-assisted therapy, cat-assisted therapy, and dolphin-assisted therapy.

It should be noted that dogs are the most used because of the diversity of their breeds and their ability to be trained to encourage communication and act as a positive reinforcement for patients.2 Horse-assisted therapy involves horses in the therapy process and can be done in various settings as well.4

How Does Animal-Assisted Learning Work for Substance Use Disorders?

Due to the extreme nature of substance use disorders (SUDs), interventions and therapies are needed and highly suggested. Animal-assisted learning is one of the therapies used to combat these disorders. Animals are used as therapeutic instruments to deliver various objectives.

These include enhancing creativity, emotional management, empathy, self-control, social skills training, self-esteem, concentration, and the reduction of stress, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors through confronting the consequences and working on internal processes that facilitate the assumption of new behavior.2

Animal-assisted therapy looks different in the setting of an addiction treatment center. They aren’t necessarily named that, but the tenets and activities are similar. Pet-friendly rehabs allow clients to bring their pets in for an added layer of treatment and comfort. American Addiction Centers treatment facilities welcome emotional support and service animals for therapy.

Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Addiction Work?

Supporters say the benefits of animal-assisted therapy include:

  • Pet therapy: This is the most common, simplest form of animal-assisted therapy. Pets bring the benefit of comfort, stress relief, and cheer.
  • Canine therapy: In this form of animal-assisted therapy, patients care for and interact with a dog. This practice is designed to instill a “transferrable attachment” to the patient.
  • Equine therapy: In this form of animal-assisted therapy, patients can benefit from a change of focus and environment while interacting with horses.

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Work for Addiction?

Animal-assisted therapy has been proven effective for addiction.2 AAT decreases positive and negative psychotic symptoms and general psychopathology and increases functionality; and the positive and negative symptoms mediate how an AAT affects functionality.2 These benefits can be streamlined to show just how AAT works for addition. Patients can have a renewed path and sense of purpose through the use of AAT.

Some insurance companies may cover animal-assisted therapy. In addition to reaching out to your insurance company, you can also contact someone at American Addiction Centers for further information on what your insurance covers and which sites allow pets. Fortunately, your insurance may cover some if not all the cost of rehab, which may include animal-assisted therapy.

Animal-Assisted Therapy FAQs

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