Can animals aid in addiction recovery? Science shows pet therapy offers positive results, but The Oaks at La Paloma’s feline friends are just plain fun to have around.
Animal-assisted therapy is nothing new. We’ve all seen companion animals used to help people with special needs. Animals can benefit more than just those with physical issues, though. Psychiatrists, psychologists and physicians have begun prescribing pets to combat loneliness, depression, inactivity and even stress. The unconditional affection pets offer can be helpful in a variety of settings — including treatment for chemical or process addictions.
Why? Maybe it’s because so many of us have fond memories of childhood pets. Without even knowing it, our four-legged friends helped teach us responsibility, compassion and the cycles of life and death. They also helped build self-esteem and confidence. For those in recovery, they can provide a sense of stability and routine as well as some much needed emotional support.
Maybe that’s why The Oaks at La Paloma’s three resident cats are so popular. The mother and two youngsters have been called by an ever-changing list of names (clients name them and then as new people come in the felines are rechristened). They may not know what names to answer to, but they know they belong. They have permanent bowls on the back patio, where residents eat in nice weather, often sharing tidbits from their plates, but they also get regular food and water from The Oaks at La Paloma’s maintenance staff. While not an official part of the recovery process at The Oaks at La Paloma, clients agree the cats offer something extra and are welcome additions.
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