Recovering from addiction is a complicated process that takes time and appropriate treatment programs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (1) explains that almost 23.5 million Americans abuse drugs or alcohol each year, but only about 11.2 percent seek treatment in a professional program.
When a loved one abuses a substance, seeking treatment in a program with equine therapy offers a realistic solution.
What is Equine Therapy?
According to Psych Central (2), equine therapy is a treatment program that incorporates horses as part of a treatment plan. Equine-assisted therapy started in 1969 as a treatment for physical disabilities.
During treatment, medical professionals and psychologists realized that the treatment also helps with non-physical ailments like mental health disorders, trauma or addiction.
Mental Health Conditions That Benefit from Equine Therapy
Psych Central (3) explains that equine therapy helps with several different mental health disorders and concerns. The emotional and mental health disorders that benefit from equine therapy include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Behavioral disorders
- Attention deficit disorders
- Substance abuse
Since the underlying cause of addiction varies between individuals, the treatment program must incorporate several options for recovery.
Equine therapy offers a realistic solution that builds up physical strength and helps individuals regain their sense of trust and general well-being.
Benefits of Equine Therapy in Addiction
The Michigan State University (4) states that equine therapy helps strengthen and rehabilitate the pathways in the brain that addiction or physical injuries damage.
Caring for a horse requires physical movement and coordination. During a treatment program, individuals groom and care for horses before riding the horse.
The Therapeutic Nature of Riding a Horse
Riding a horse is therapeutic, says the Michigan State University (4). The gait of a horse is similar to a human’s walk and improves an individual’s balance, coordination and physical strength.
Substance abuse injures the physical body and weakens the muscles. Riding a horse helps the body rebuild muscle and strength, which improves the health of the body. When the body is healthy, an individual focuses on the underlying causes of addiction.
The benefits of equine therapy include:
- Building trust
- Providing feedback to the individual in recovery and a therapist
- Building healthy relationships
How Mental Health Relates to Substance Abuse
The complexities of addiction relate to the underlying causes of initial substance abuse. In some cases, trauma or mental health disorders contribute to substance abuse.
In other situations, challenges in relationships and stress related to a personal lifestyle cause temptations and cravings for a substance. Regardless of the underlying causes, equine therapy helps with recovery.
A horse provides immediate feedback about an individual’s behavior and actions. Psych Central (3) states that horses help therapists break down barriers that prevent treatment by helping individuals regain their sense of trust.
Getting the Right Treatment
Treating addiction requires a personalized plan of action. The best treatment plan for any individual will depend on their personal situation, goals and health.
When a treatment program offers equine therapy, it provides a chance to start fresh and try different options for recovery.
Addiction recovery is a process and it takes times, but a professional treatment program offers tools and options that help an individual reach his or her goals. By including equine therapy in the treatment plan, individuals improve their physical and emotional well-being.
To learn more about equine therapy and how we can help you overcome addiction, give us a call at 877-466-0620.