Should pets be allowed at halfway houses, or would they serve as more of a distraction than anything else? This is a highly controversial topic as it stands, one that many halfway house owners do not see eye-to-eye on. The truth of the matter is, most halfway house owners will not allow furry friends of any kind because of allergens and for cleanliness purposes. If there is a dog in the house, for example, and someone who is in desperate need of a sober living facility and who happens to be allergic to dogs will not be able to reside in the house.
However, many halfway houses are specifically designated for pet owners. In cases like this, the pet must get along well with other animals and must be initially approved by the owner and the support staff. A dog that regularly attacks cats would not be a good fit for a pet-friendly sober home, for example. However, having a well-behaved, friendly, and calm dog or cat can help with the overall recovery process in several ways.
Here are just a few of the ways that having an animal could aid in the recovery process:
- Having an animal nearby can help residents stay sober
- Many residents report that caring for an animal helps them both emotionally and spiritually
- Some pets are emotional support animals, and they help residents work through severe emotional issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental or emotional health-related issues
- Having a pet can help build self-esteem because it shows residents that they can successfully care for another living being
- Pets provide a sense of comfort – they make the halfway house itself feel more like home
- Pets can provide residents with a sense of purpose and belonging
- Pets can decrease anxiety, depression, and general feelings of stress
- Interestingly enough, having a pet can help men and women bolster their sense of spirituality and further work towards developing a relationship with a higher power
- In some cases, a person’s bond with his or her pet will be so significant that he or she will refuse treatment unless the pet can be present
In some cases, because of all the health benefits that furry friends provide, a halfway house will have one communal pet on-site. This pet will serve as a therapy animal, but residents will not have to care for it completely by themselves, thus it won’t serve as a major distraction the way independently caring for an animal might.
There Are Pros and Cons to Pets in Halfway Houses
Just as there are positive aspects of having pets in a sober living setting, there are negative aspects as well. As previously mentioned, having an animal in the house means that those who suffer from allergies will not be able to reside in that specific sober living facility. Pets also can distract residents from their comprehensive recovery programs.
For example, someone with a dog who tends to need a lot of attention might not want to leave for intensive outpatient five days a week or spend time at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings away from his or her pet. It is important that the relationship an individual has to his or her animal is healthy, and will not directly interfere with a continuation of clinical care and other addiction treatment methods.
Riverbend Residence – New Jersey Sober Living
At Riverbend Residence, we understand how important an individual’s relationship with his or her pet can be. While we do believe that bonds with animals can be healthy and productive, we do not accept pets at our sober living facilities for several reasons – above all else, we want to ensure that our gender-specific halfway houses remain a safe space for all residents. If you have a pet that you are completely unwilling to part with, we are more than happy to point you in the right direction. For more information, please feel free to give us a call at your earliest possible convenience.