The Impact of Animals in Florida Drug Rehabs

Just How Effective is the Human to Animal Connection?

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

-Paulo Coelho, ‘The Alchemist’

No matter how far each of us has fallen, our greatest desire, ambition, and willingness to give stems from our hearts, therefore we seek the beings that hold out affection. Each of us wants to do better, not just for ourselves, but often times for a child, partner, sibling, parent…. however, we still struggle at times to find a balance with those we love, communication, and what we are trying to overcome. We fight with those closest to us, and push away those who are willing to help, finding ourselves in a seemingly never ending cycle of personal build up and tear down. This cycle continues until we find something, or someone, who potentially needs our help more than we need theirs—or we make a connection with another being that doesn’t require us to explain ourselves; we can just simply be, and heal.

Alcohol treatment centers in Florida like Saint John’s Recovery Place (SJRP) have recognized this fact and in the pursuit of helping to rebuild patient lives, have extended themselves to offer Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as part of their patients’ potential treatment plans. This may seem like a long shot to some, as most individuals get stuck thinking of AAT as seeing-eye-dogs, yet there is so much more to the program as a whole. Many individuals in Florida, as well as across the United States, have benefited from the assistance of animals in their recoveries, whether those reasons being for recovery are physical, mental, a combination of the two, or something else entirely.

AAT has recognizably been at work since the early 1800s, when Florence Nightingale—the basic founder of modern nursing—made substantial discoveries on the human animal connection while observing the impact small pets had on children who suffered from anxiety, and adults who were living in psychiatric institutions (Ernst Para. 3). She made note of how the creatures helped calm patients and continued to observe animals with clients for many years to come, even citing the positive impact these relationships garnered (Ernst Para. 3). From this point, AAT only continued to grow, and gain more thoughtful respect/consideration; even Sigmund Freud in the early 1930’s became a proponent of this vein of care after involving his favorite dog, Jofi, in some of his psychotherapy sessions (Ernst Para. 4). Today, AAT is still in use, and is utilized in a wide variety of care programs for the young, mid-life, and the old, whether they are at home, in a nursing home, or hospital and even at times, in prisons. Animal Assisted Therapy is now defined as “activities [that] use companion animals such as dogs [and other animals] to provide opportunities for motivation, education, or recreation to improve a person’s quality of life” (Alliance of Therapy Dogs Para.1). Humankind has learned to, well, learn from animals, and we receive much joy in caring for them, or just being with them, in any capacity that we can.

Drug rehabilitation centers in Florida like SJRP have recognized the benefits of having clients work with animals. Whether these animals are dogs, cats, horses, or even ferrets,  the good they do for their human companions is undeniable and greatly appreciated amongt many people. Working in tandem with other therapies, AAT has assisted many people to recovery from their addictions, physical and mental aliments, and is a great motivator for those individuals who just need an extra nudge in the right direction.