• If you are concerned about the well-being of your pets, one of the best things you can do for them is to get the treatment that will help you to be a better pet parent.
  • Unless your pet is a service dog, it is unlikely that you will be able to bring them to residential drug rehab.
  • Similarly, it is unlikely that you will be able to see your pets during a residential treatment program unless there are special circumstances.
  • Finding a dependable person to take care of your pets while you are in treatment can play a significant role in helping you to stay focused on your recovery. 
  • Remember that being away from your pets while you are in treatment is a short-term proposition. Continuing to live with addiction can put their futures in jeopardy.

If I Have Pets, Should I Go To Drug Rehab?

If your goal is to provide a safe and stable home for your pets and to ensure they have the nutrition and support they need to live a healthy and active lifestyle, then drug rehab is a must if you are living with an active addiction. 

Getting the right kind of exercise, eating healthy foods, and having quality time is just as important for your pets as they are for you. If you are on a binge and not paying attention to them for days at a time, they may run out of water and/or food or feel like they have to escape the house to get what they need to survive. 

If you have new people in and out of the place you share with them, they may more easily be let out with no one taking notice. They may be subject to abuse by the people who are around them while under the influence, especially if you are gone or also under the influence and not there to pay attention to what is happening. 

When you get treatment, you decrease the risks to your pets and increase your ability to care for them and keep them healthy for a long time. More importantly, you improve your quality of life, your health, and well-being, and your hopes for living a long life in sobriety when you undertake a drug addiction treatment program that is comprehensive enough to meet your needs. 

Can I Bring My Pets With Me to Drug Treatment?

No. Unless your pet is a service animal; they will not be allowed into your drug rehab program with you. If you have a service animal, you will need to show the paperwork demonstrating that they have been trained appropriately and they are not just “therapeutic” for you. 

Unfortunately, though almost everyone in addiction treatment would potentially benefit from having their pets to care for as they go through the process, there are several risks to allowing animals of all kinds into the treatment center, including:

  • Allergies of other clients and/or staff members to a specific type of animal.
  • Phobias of certain pets experienced by clients that can make it more difficult for them to focus on their recovery.
  • Potential for the pet to lash out and bite, scratch, or otherwise harm you or other people in the program.
  • The distraction that your pet may provide to you or others in the program. Some may want to spend more time with your pet than you want them to or feel bitter that you have a pet and they don’t. You also may spend too much time focusing on your pet and not enough time being present for your recovery.

Will I Be Able to See My Pets While I'm in Rehab?

It is unlikely that there will be a time where you can see your pets in person while you are in residence at drug rehab. However, if your pet is staying with a friend, when you are allowed to have a phone, FaceTime, or Skype calls you may be able to see your pet virtually. Also, if there is a visiting day that takes place at a local park or other outdoor areas, and it is permitted by staff members from your addiction treatment program, then you may be able to have someone bring your pet to see you. 

During the first two weeks of treatment or longer, you will likely be asked by your therapeutic team to cut all connection to people outside of the drug rehab program. Taking this time to disconnect from your relationships gives you the opportunity to shift your focus away from what is happening with other people and stressors in your life and turn your attention toward your addiction and the therapies you are undertaking to address it.

What Should I Do With My Pets While I'm In Treatment?

The best option is to find a friend or family member who is not using drugs or alcohol and is willing to take them into their home while you are away or that can stay in your home for the duration of your treatment. Finding someone to be with them around the clock will help to relieve some of your worries about their care and well-being. 

Alternatively, if you can find someone to come over and feed them, let them out, walk them, and/or give them medication as needed on a regular basis, that will also be a great way to make sure they are cared for until you return. 

It is not a good idea to board them while you are gone. Boarding options for pets, especially for a long-term stay, can be very expensive. You don’t want to feel like you have to leave treatment after a short amount of time because the cost of boarding is rising every day. Instead, you want the length of time you spend in treatment to be based on your level of stability and true ability to stay sober for the long term. 

In some cases, the best choice may be to transition your pet into a new home before you leave. Be careful not to allow this to take up too much time or to become an excuse for not going to treatment. 

If you find that you are not connecting with anyone willing to take your pet, reach out to organizations that may be able to help, such as animal shelters. They may be able to connect you with a solution. 

How Long Will It Take to be Successful In Recovery?

The length of time you spend in drug rehab should be based on the amount of progress you make in drug addiction treatment. This will vary considerably from person to person and depend on:

  • Your level of readiness to kick substance abuse out of your life and make changes
  • The drug of choice and other substances of abuse at the time of detox
  • The dose of the drug when treatment begins
  • The presence of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • The support of positive family members

It is critical that you avoid rushing your way through treatment with the goal of returning home to your pet. Though your pet may be a valuable member of your family, you and they will not fare well for long if you do not get the treatment you need to recover from active addiction.

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