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Pet Friendly Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs

A pet-friendly rehab that allows patients to bring their pets with them to treatment

Published: August 15, 2023

You may be wondering what substance abuse treatment options are available if you have a pet, emotional support animal (ESA), or service animal that you need by your side during the course of your treatment.

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about pet friendly alcohol and drug addiction treatment including what kinds of pets are allowed, the health benefits, and more.

About Pet Friendly Addiction Treatment Centers

Pet-friendly drug rehab centers are rare and may not be available in every state as a result. Many rehab centers that are pet friendly are luxury treatment centers.

Many facilities may not have the means to house animals in addition to patients or the program isn’t suited for animal companions, such as a detox program. Although, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a drug and alcohol rehab center that will.

It’s important to note that even the centers that do accept pets will likely have certain requirements for pets including certain animal types or need for vaccinations. That being said, this will differ from place to place.

While it can be a bit trickier to find pet friendly addiction rehab centers, there are many benefits of bringing your pet with you for treatment.

What Types of Pets Are Allowed in Rehab?

The types of pets that are allowed in a rehab center will depend on which facility you choose as they all have different regulations. Scroll on to read a little bit about some common types of pets that may be allowed.

Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are usually the most commonly allowed pets in rehab centers. People who have a cat or dog that they would not like to separate from during treatment may be able to bring their pet with them, which can relieve some stress surrounding the transition into treatment.

Service Animals

Service animals are not considered pets but working animals. They help their owners perform tasks and navigate day-to-day activities that may be affected by their disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed to enter any public space with their owners.

That being said, not all addiction treatment centers will allow service animals. Businesses are legally allowed to deny service animal access if it will fundamentally alter the nature of the services.

Be sure to ask any treatment center you are considering ahead of time if they accept service animals.

Emotional Support Animals

ESAs are another kind of animal that is not considered a pet, however, they are not allowed into as many spaces as service animals as they are different designations.

ESAs are animals that provide emotional support for their owners by alleviating symptoms or effects of a disability or mental health disorder.

Like any other kind of animal, ESAs are not automatically allowed in every treatment center.

Other Small Pets

Some facilities may allow other small pets on a case-by-case basis with certain requirements. Other small pets you might be able to bring include hamsters, gerbils, fish, and reptiles.

How Do Pets Benefit Their Owners During Addiction Recovery?

Having your pet with you during the addiction recovery process can have numerous benefits. Many people may rely on their animals for comfort or simply dislike being separated from them.

Some benefits of bringing your pet to rehab with you can include:

  • Emotional support: While this is the case with ESAs, even regular pets can provide emotional support and improved well-being for their owners. Many people find a sense of comfort in their pets as they provide unconditional love and can almost feel like a family member.
  • Sense of purpose: Some people find that having their pet with them through treatment gives them a sense of purpose. They may feel like they have something else to work for in their recovery journey.
  • Eased transition: Bringing your pet can greatly ease the transition into a recovery program. By having someone familiar around, you may feel the transition is less jarring.
  • Routine building: By having your pet to take care of, you may find it easier to build a routine in sobriety. This may make it easier to stay in recovery after treatment, too.
  • Healthy distraction/coping mechanism: When you find yourself struggling during treatment, having your pet by your side can provide a healthy distraction or coping mechanism that takes the place of substances.

Types of Rehab Programs That May Allow Pets

Pet friendly rehab centers can be fairly rare, but there are certain types of programs that may allow pets.

Inpatient and Residential Rehab

Inpatient and residential rehab programs are programs that require patients to stay in a designated facility throughout the length of their treatment.

These kinds of treatment programs are the most intensive and provide a heavily structured rehab schedule.

Some inpatient and residential programs may be pet friendly and allow cats, dogs, or other small animals upon approval while others may only allow service animals or ESAs. Be sure to check with the facility you are considering to confirm their pet policies.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient programs are typically a step down in treatment intensity or level of care from inpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment does not require individuals to stay in a center for the length of their treatment, but rather, travel to a center for treatment on a regular basis, usually several days a week for multiple hours.

Because outpatient programs are shorter and don’t involve housing participants, some of them are pet friendly. On the other hand, some may not allow pets due to certain restrictions.

Sober Living and Transitional Living

Sober living and transitional living are living environments designed for people transitioning out of addiction treatment. They provide a sober environment for people to get back into a regular routine while offering a sense of accountability and community.

Sober housing is similar to apartments when it comes to allowing pets. In other words, those that do may have certain requirements such as breed restrictions, certain registrations, etc.

This is something to look into ahead of time to ensure you are aware of the requirements at any living facilities you’re considering.

Pet Requirements in Drug Rehab

Addiction treatment centers that do accept pets will likely have some requirements for the animal to be accepted.

Some requirements may include:

  • That your animal is leash trained
  • That your animal is kept with you at all times
  • That you sign an agreement to take care of the animal
  • That you pick up after its messes
  • Vaccination records
  • That you pay for all animal-related expenses
  • That your animal behaves in public spaces
  • That your animal is a certain size
  • That your animal is a registered service animal or ESA

Is Pet Friendly Rehab the Same as Animal Therapy?

No, pet friendly rehab is not the same as animal therapy.

Pet friendly addiction treatment centers allow you to bring your pet with you to stay through the length of your treatment, which can be very beneficial for providing a sense of familiarity, purpose, and support.

On the other hand, animal therapy is an alternative kind of therapy that uses animal interactions as a means of therapy. Animal assisted therapy is designed to help people with their emotional, social, and behavioral functioning.

Some benefits of animal therapy include:

  • Increase in beneficial hormones like oxytocin
  • Decreased loneliness
  • Decreased anxiety or depression
  • Providing a sense of comfort
  • Decreased physical pain
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Treatment of dual diagnoses or co-occurring disorders

As you can see, there are some similar benefits between animal therapy and pet friendly rehab. However, the key differences are pet friendly treatment programs allow you to bring your own pet and have them with you at all times whereas animal therapy provides animal interaction for a set amount of time.

Types of Animal Therapy Offered in Addiction Treatment

Animal assisted therapy is a somewhat common evidence-based rehab option. There are many different kinds of animal therapy that may be a part of your treatment plan.

Equine Assisted Therapy

Equine assisted therapy is a kind of alternative therapy that uses interactions and activities with horses as treatment. This can include a wide range of activities such as horseback riding, cleaning, feeding, and grooming.

Much like having your pet with you, equine assisted therapy can help provide a sense of responsibility for people in addiction rehab. Additionally, many people find the process of building trust with a horse to be healing and help them reframe their mindset or behavioral patterns.

Canine Assisted Therapy

Canine assisted therapy uses interactions and activities with dogs as a means of therapy. Unlike equine assisted therapy, canine assisted therapy tends to focus more on spending time with the animal.

Petting and playing with dogs has many positive effects on humans including increased positive hormones and endorphins. Spending time with dogs can help distract people from their current situation and not feel as alone in their treatment.

Dolphin Assisted Therapy

A less frequently offered kind of animal therapy is dolphin assisted therapy. This kind of therapy is typically offered in places that are close to the ocean such as California or Florida.

Dolphin assisted therapy often involves swimming in the ocean with them or interacting with them in a tank.

Both can be very beneficial and provide a stress outlet for people in addiction treatment. Additionally, swimming in the ocean can create relaxation and increase happy hormones.

Cost of Pet Friendly Rehab Centers

The cost of pet friendly addiction treatment will depend on several different factors. Many pet friendly centers are luxury treatment facilities, which often cost more.

Factors that may affect the cost of pet friendly rehab include:

  • The type of treatment you are seeking (inpatient, outpatient, sober living)
  • Where you live
  • The facility you choose
  • The kind of animal you have
  • Your insurance provider and plan

There are general costs associated with different kinds of addiction treatment programs.

Average costs include:

  • $9,766 for residential treatment programs
  • $4,939 for intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • $3,278 for adolescent outpatient programs
  • $32,523 for therapeutic community treatment (sober living)

Does Insurance Cover Pet Friendly Rehab?

Insurance will sometimes cover pet friendly rehab. If the facility and program you choose is covered by your insurance and they are pet friendly, you can get your treatment covered.

However, insurance providers often have several requirements for addiction treatment to be covered.

For example, your plan may have certain specifications, you may need a substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis, you may need to complete a certain kind of treatment, you may need to choose a certain type of rehab program, etc.

It is vital to figure coverage out beforehand by getting preauthorization and communicating with a representative from your insurance company to fully understand your coverage.

What to Look for in a Pet-Friendly Rehab Center

If you’re considering bringing your pet with you to a rehab center, it’s essential to know what to look for when choosing an addiction treatment facility.

Pet-Friendly Staff

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the staff at the facility is pet-friendly. In other words, make sure staff are accepting and understanding of your choice to bring your furry friend.

The best way to determine if the staff of a rehab center is pet-friendly is by asking questions about having your pet with you. For example, “Will having my animal with me affect the staff?” or “Is the staff comfortable with patients bringing their pets?”

A facility can accept pets, but most pet owners can agree that they want to put their animals in safe environments, which includes those in which the staff will respect your animal.

Outdoor Areas for Exercise

Rehab centers that offer large outdoor areas are ideal when it comes to finding a pet-friendly treatment facility. Having the opportunity to take your animal out for exercise will not only be beneficial for the animal, but also for you.

You’ll want to make sure a facility is properly equipped to keep your pet healthy, even though that responsibility will still fall solely on you.

Positive Reviews and Facility Accreditation

Lastly, positive reviews and accreditations are important when choosing a treatment center. Positive reviews from previous participants speak volumes when it comes to addiction treatment. Look for centers with high star-ratings and positive testimonials.

Accreditations and certifications such as Joint Commission accreditation, LegitScript certification, and Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF) accreditation can be fantastic indicators of reliable and reputable treatment.

Find Pet-Friendly Drug Rehab Near You

Pet-friendly recovery centers can be a bit harder to come by, but the benefits of pet-friendly treatment can greatly outweigh the obstacles.

If you or your loved one is interested in finding a pet-friendly treatment center nearby, give our helpline a call today.

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