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Equine Therapy for Drug Addiction

The disease of addiction is one that affects more than nine million Americans, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS). People who are addicted to drugs tend to find themselves unable to stop using despite any and all desires to do so. One of the reasons this occurs is because as drug abuse continues, structures within the brain begin to physically change, leading to an inability to stop using. It can be extremely difficult for individuals who are addicted to drugs to muster enough willpower to push through the disease aspect of addiction, however those who do often obtain support through several different types of therapies. Outside of traditional therapies such as individual therapy, group counseling, and behavioral therapies, equine therapy for drug addiction can bolster one’s recovery significantly. 

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy for drug addiction is a method of treatment that plays upon the connection between humans and horses. Horses, first domesticated 6,000 years ago in Kazakhstan, were used for their meat and milk. Over time, however, horses began to serve many more purposes outside of food and drink. Horses began being used for purposes related to war, agriculture, travel, and even sport. As years have passed, horses have now become companions for most, while still providing services linked to farming. No matter what they were being used for, there has always been a connection between this specific animal and humans that is undeniable. 

Equine therapy plays upon this natural connection by utilizing horses to promote healing in individuals who need it most. People who are receiving treatment for substance use disorders or mental health disorders and who are participating in equine therapy do not need to have experience with horses. They do not need to know how to ride horses or care for them prior to beginning therapy. All they need to do is show up and follow the directions of the therapist in charge. 

The therapist leading the equine therapy sessions will work with each client to learn as much as possible about them and their history of substance use disorders/mental health disorders. They will develop exercises geared towards each client’s specific needs in an effort to build emotional resilience and help heal past trauma. Equine therapy for drug addiction places a strong focus on helping clients develop skills that will aid in their successful recovery for years to come.

Equine Therapy for Drug Addiction

When it comes to treating a disease as powerful as addiction, it often takes more than one approach to produce positive outcomes. Equine therapy for drug addiction is viewed as being one of the best forms of therapy for this condition, however, it is recommended to be included as part of a more comprehensive treatment program. When equine therapy is made part of a traditional treatment plan, it can drastically help clients as they work towards recovery. 

Trust Issues

It is no secret that many people who are struggling with drug addiction have difficulty when it comes to trust. Maybe they have experienced one or more traumatic experiences in the past that have compromised their ability to trust others, or maybe other specific events occurred in their lives that make them think twice about trusting others. When in equine therapy, it is extremely important to develop a sense of trust between a client and a horse. Some basic exercises are done to promote trust, such as grooming and feeding, allowing for clients to not only practice trusting others but to also experience what it feels like when others begin to trust them.

Decreased Anxiety

Some might think that being around horses will only increase their anxiety, especially considering their size and power. However, horses are extremely kind and docile animals who love being around humans. Their immense presence can actually help to reduce anxiety in clients, as they will engage in exercises that help show how relaxing horses can be. Focusing on building that connection can help keep one’s mind off of their anxiety while developing new ways to promote calmness and a sense of wellbeing. Simply being around horses requires individuals to focus on calming their own being, as horses pick up on energy. Being around horses with a chaotic energy can put them into defense mode.

Improved Communication

Communication is absolutely key when it comes to recovery from drug addiction. Individuals who grapple with this disease know that when unable to communicate properly, many negative effects can begin developing. Poor communication can lead to increased risk for relapse and lack of support, among other things. Communication does not always require speaking, which is why engaging in equine therapy for drug addiction can be so beneficial. Clients can learn how to utilize their body language to communicate with horses all while they work on the intention of their words and tone of voice. Additionally, clients can benefit from the horse’s response, allowing them to see in real-time how effective their communication efforts are.

Equine therapy for drug addiction can also help individuals develop a strong understanding of boundaries, improve feelings related to depression, increase impulse control, and improve problem-solving skills. 

Drug Addiction Treatment in Knoxville, TN

Equine therapy for drug addiction is one of the best forms of therapy available for those in recovery. At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we understand just how complicated it can be to live with an active addiction. We also understand that getting sober and maintaining recovery is not always as easy as it might seem. Our team of devoted, experienced professionals can help you or a loved one overcome the greatest challenges related to drug addiction. To get help today, call us or use our contact form.