Animals have been used for many years to assist people who are in therapy or in some type of recovery program. One of the most popular animals used by alcohol and drug treatment centers for this purpose are horses; their many outstanding qualities such as responsiveness, intellect, sensitivity, and strength are suitable for helping patients with substance abuse disorder.
This kind of therapy is known in the therapeutic world as equine-assisted therapy or horse therapy and many studies support its contribution to the healing process. While many will argue that conventional treatment methods are best for people with addiction problems, reputable drug and alcohol rehab centers that advocate an integrated treatment approach for substance abuse treatment acknowledge the significant role of complementing traditional rehab techniques with holistic and experiential therapies in expediting and improving the effectiveness of the treatment program
Recovering addicts who participate in equine therapy as part of their alcohol and drug rehab plan have been found to show improvement in the following areas:
Most recovering addicts suffer from low self-esteem and low confidence as they enter treatment. Being in rehab also gives them the impression that they are no longer in control of their addiction, which is why they are admitted to an alcohol and drug rehab facility in the first place.
Fortunately, all these issues can be resolved if they participate in equine-assisted therapy. Being able to work with horses and being able to control them who are large, powerful, and majestic animals can boost their confidence. They start developing positive self-concepts as they realize that they are still able to accomplish something noteworthy as bonding with a powerful animal.
Horses are responsive and sensitive animals. Unlike humans who can lie about what they truly feel, horses are always honest and will respond based on what was shown to them. For instance, if a patient treats them roughly, the horse will back off or react negatively. The horse’s reaction will help the patient realize that what he did was not the right approach so he will readily adjust his actions until he receives a positive response. Few lectures and encouragement from human counselors are able to provide such sense of self-awareness and realization to the patient than working with horses.
- Responsibility and Essential Life Values
One of the goals of addiction treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery’s alcohol and drug rehab center is to teach our clients essential life skills, particularly a sense of personal responsibility. As the patient, gradually bonds with the horse, he is also developing a sense of responsibility for its well-being. Apart from responsibility, caring for another living being helps the patient to learn and practice essential life values of empathy, compassion, understanding, and humility. These values will help him adjust and thrive as he works on achieving his best self.
Staying inside a rehab facility can be stressful and worrisome given the new surrounding and working towards recovery.
Working and being with horses during therapy can significantly help the patient to relax while giving him encouragement to persevere and cooperate during the entire treatment process. In a study on the effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy published on the Society and Animals, it was revealed that horse therapy significantly lowers psychological distress and improves the psychological well-being of patients who have undergone such treatment.
If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from substance abuse disorder and you are looking through several drug and alcohol rehab centers, it is best to choose a facility such as Ranch Creek Recovery that offers equine-assisted therapy, given the benefits mentioned above, and one that complements traditional treatment with holistic approaches.