Not all of our sober houses have animals. Rooms may or may not be open at the SoulShine farm. For our recovery house residents dealing
with drug or alcohol addiction their treatment may or may not include working with our animals at one of our houses or on the farm.
If you think you or a family member will especially benefit from a stay on our animal farm, please let our Director, Allison, know up front.
Whether it's a therapy dog, a service animal or the humble, plain, ol' baby goat that provides emotional support - we know animals offer benefits that help people who've gone through addiction rehabilitation and want to maintain their sobriety. Even if you're not an animal person, you may still understand the direct correlation between animals and healing. Our four-legged friends have been a vital ingredient to sobriety because they raise the spirits of the addicted, lonely, sick and the struggling. An animal is capable of providing companionship for people who are hurting and lonely.
A 2014 study found that dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, dolphins and guinea pigs are an effective means of helping with co-occurring drug and alcohol addiction and mental illnesses. Pet fill the gap of loneliness if friends and family are absent. Most animals accept and love unconditionally, which means you don’t have to explain your mistakes, justify your actions or even apologize. Being with our four-legged friends lowers blood pressure and fosters a peaceful, calm feeling. When you're in recovery, animals can be someone to cuddle with, walk with and talk to on those particularly tough days. Spending time with animals is a guaranteed way to get out of your own head because animals need your attention.
Taking a horse or goat with you on a walk ensures you always have a friend with you. It can also be a conversation starter with others. Whether it is simply because your animal is beautiful or because that other person is also doing what you are doing - you can bet a little socializing will occur - which is exactly the point of the program. In recovery, it is often too easy to isolate (which is never a good idea). Human/animal contact is good for the soul and there is nothing better than a laugh with the new friend over your amazing new experiences.
Taking care of an animal is also an excellent way to stay on a routine and to become responsible for someone besides yourself. Animals will let you know when they're hungry, need attention, want to go outside, or just want to play a little. They make you remain on schedule. It also means you will have a reason to go home early in the future because you can’t leave your animal alone for too long. Without attention, these loving creatures will let you know things aren’t right. Kind of like us humans - right?
Down the road: For a healthy person, one of the most rewarding jobs is volunteering. For people who struggle with drugs or alcohol, volunteering can be a literal life saver. There are myriad opportunities to volunteer after you leave SoulShine and they all have one thing in common: They help you get out of your own head. Seeing another person or an animal who is hurting produces the healthy feeling of empathy, which leads to better interpersonal relationships. Plus, the improved communication skills mean you can get better at your work, family and friend connections. In the end, being productive is a top goal of our sober living programs.
Regardless of the situation, animals are proven to be healers of the sick, whether physical, emotional or mental - or all of the above.
There isn't much that a wagging tail or a nuzzling nose on your hand can’t cure. Whether for opioid treatment, alcoholism or
other addiction - an animal can play a massive part in your healing process.