Equine therapy treatment for substance abuse is meant to teach patients how to rebuild relationships. A horse’s companionship allows patients to bond emotionally, gain a sense of responsibility, and forge trust. If you’d like to know more, just contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 for details.
The Important First Step
The first step in any treatment of addiction is the detoxification process if one is required. This is because some substances don’t just create a psychological dependency due to the feelings they give to the addict, they create an actual physical dependency as well. The body now physically craves a particular substance, such as painkillers, or heroin, and because of this, the addiction can lead a person to many dark places in their life. The addict may say things to people that are regretted later, or do things in a similar vein, and part of this is because their body now believes it NEEDS the substance as a matter of survival, like food or water, and they are simply trying to do their best to satisfy that need.
This means that a rehabilitation often begins by first purging the system. The body must be clean, and the physical dependency must also be broken. This can be a very intense and physically demanding time for the recovering addict, but it’s a necessary stepping stone. At the end of it, once physical recovery has begun, addiction recovery can then take place, and for some, equine therapy for addiction is a great place to start.
How Equine Therapy for Addiction Works
Some people are creative and respond better to addressing their issues and problems through art, music, or even acting. Others take strength from their religious convictions, and so faith-based therapy is often an ideal solution to help someone find the strength within themselves to persevere. Equine therapy treatment is about a person recovering through the forging of a strong emotional and psychological bond with a horse.
Equine Therapy for addiction has been in practice in the United States since the late 1960s, and, for a certain type of person, has proven to be an incredibly effective method of treatment with some very positive and surprising results. The bond between humans and animals has always been high, and many people are already familiar with the decades-long relationships we establish with cats and dogs, allowing them to become treasured members of a household.
Mending Broken Relationships
Sadly, one of the casualties of substance addiction is all too often the relationships people forge with others. Addiction can create huge divides between people that were formerly very close to each other. In other cases, addiction, can destroy the trust an addict once had in other people as the spiral of addiction forces them into contact with people willing to take advantage of their desperation. It’s not uncommon for an addict, at the beginning of the recovery process to have a lot of work to do in starting—or rebuilding—relationships with other people.
However, once detoxification and withdrawal are over, simply putting a person back in their old life is not going to repair the damage that’s already been done. That is going to take work, and often it will also take the acquisition of new social skills, more empathy, and stronger bonds to make these connections. Equine therapy treatment is a safe way to undergo this process with a partner that is not judgmental, biased or harboring a personal or ulterior motive; a horse.
Working to Build Trust
In essence, equine therapy for substance abuse is meant to build—or rebuild, in some cases—the ability to bond with someone else, as well as gain a sense of responsibility, and forge trust. But this is all taking place between the recovering addict and a horse.
People in recovery are “assigned” a horse, and this relationship may last for as long as one year, perhaps more if required. Coming into the care of a horse and learning to feed it, maintain it and ride it provides a special kind of structure that greatly benefits someone in the recovery stage.
A horse can sense a person’s emotions, and it responds to them. A horse will retaliate if it is treated unfairly, but will respond appropriately when it is treated with trust and respect. There is no hypocrisy, deception or politics with a horse, and if it decides to trust a person, it is simply because that person has earned that trust. A relationship with a horse is uncomplicated but powerful, rewarding but pure.
Lessons Learned From Equine Therapy
Over the course of equine therapy for addiction, a person in recovery learns not just to feed, maintain and ride a horse. The person also learns about how to openly, honestly treat another living creature with the respect it deserves to win trust. And these skills, the sense of responsibility and how to honestly forge a relationship, carry over into daily life. The lessons learned through equine therapy for substance abuse can be used to mend personal relationships, and make them stronger and better than ever.