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There are many different ways to address addiction—just as there are many different effects of addiction. Everyone goes through this struggle in a different way, so drug rehab works best when it is personalized to suit the patient’s specific needs.
But there’s one kind of treatment that’s surprisingly effective, even if it’s quite difficult to imagine who that treatment could work for. It’s called equine therapy, and it’s basically drug rehab with horses.
Many individuals find it beneficial as a part of drug treatment. So today we’re going to talk about what it is and how it works.
What Is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy is unique and interesting in its approach, because it makes use of horses in a therapeutic setting. This is drastically different from the usual approach where you sit and talk to a counselor, either by yourself or with a group of people.
This is a form of behavioral therapy—a type of animal-assisted therapy—which means it works best as part of a comprehensive drug treatment program.
Equine therapy helps promote emotional growth and personal development. Addicted individuals tend to lose their sense of self and give up on themselves when they discover that they are hooked on a substance. They give up their responsibilities, focusing on obtaining and abusing a certain drug.
This therapy restores a bit of that, for people who have lost sight of their priorities. It can be effective for children, adolescents, and adults alike. In fact, it has helped many individuals who were addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and prescription medications.
How Does it Work?
The actual program may differ depending on the facility, and even within a specific facility the treatment may be tailored to suit the unique needs of an individual patient.
Patients in equine therapy will spend time with a horse each day. Mind you, they won’t be riding it. Most facilities do not offer this as part of the therapy because horses in equine therapy are either too old or injured, and therefore could not provide rides.
Instead, the addicted individuals will develop a working relationship with the horse by tending to its basic needs. This includes feeding, grooming, and exercise. As they do so, they continue to receive care and guidance from medical professionals, therapists, and addiction counselors.
Animals have proven their ability to soothe and relax sick patients—including those who are struggling with drug abuse. In this case, horses can help improve mood, reduce stress, and alleviate pain. It works by giving the patient a new thing to focus on—an activity that’s both relaxing and fulfilling at the same time. It makes the patient feel productive, and also personally responsible for another living thing.
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This will eventually help them drop their unhealthy habits—habits that led to and perpetuated their addiction. They will learn how to take responsibility and even maintain a regular schedule.
Equine therapy may sound unusual at first, but it is very helpful when it comes to overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. What’s great about this therapy is that the patient usually comes to these realizations by themselves while taking care of a horse.
Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today and learn more about equine therapy.