Emotional Support Animal

Is an Emotional Support Animal the Same as a Service Animal?

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Animals, like the human race, have evolved; they are now more commonly used for purposes other than being pets. As a result, American Addiction Centers grouped pets into emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals (SA), and they have also implemented a pet-friendly rehab policy to treat various behavioral disorders

This article will discuss the differences between emotional support animals and service animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) vs. Service Animals (SA)

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an Emotional Support Animal is any animal that provides emotional support to its owners to alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. They are the preferred pets for those suffering from depression, loneliness, panic attacks, and specific phobias. Furthermore, they offer their owners a sense of security.

On the other hand, service animals have been carefully trained to do certain activities or chores to assist persons with disabilities, including physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory. Until recently, service animals were only dogs. For example, some are trained as hearing dogs, guide dogs, PTSD support dogs, or seizure detection dogs. However, miniature horses are now being trained as guides for the blind.

Emotional support animals do not have specialized training to provide certain services to people with disabilities. All they get are toilets and obedience training. This ensures the animal is not hostile and determines if it is safe to travel on a plane. Their owners must also have obtained a medical letter from their health care practitioner or mental health specialist. This letter must confirm the need for such animals to treat mental or emotional disorders. However, the plane is virtually the only place an emotional support animal is permitted to enter. They cannot accompany their owners into other public areas like shopping malls, movie theaters, or restaurants. This is in stark contrast to service dogs, who are permitted to enter any location at any time. 

However, dogs aren’t the only emotional support animals. Cats, peacocks, fish, and hamsters are some other common examples.

The Addiction Epidemy

Addiction is a long-standing issue. In the past, people primarily used addiction to describe those who couldn’t control their urge to drink alcohol or abuse prescription medicines. However, the meaning of addiction has evolved to include disorderly behaviors such as compulsive urges for gambling, food, sex, work, coffee, workouts, and substance abuse.  Addiction is caused mainly by genetics and environmental factors such as social pressure, early exposure to drugs/alcohol at home or school, family problems, work/educational issues, and many more. Trauma from different types of abuse– sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, and mental– has also been a factor in addiction cases.

Addiction causes a plethora of problems. It can cause physical damage like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), psychological damage like depression, social damage like incarceration or broken relationships, and economic damage like bankruptcy and debt. 

Finding a quality rehab center, particularly a pet-friendly one, to tackle this issue before it deteriorates is a must. It is essential! It is critical! It is non-negotiable! The sooner this is accomplished, the better the chances of recovery and the lower the danger of relapse.

The Need For Pet-friendly Rehab Centers

Rehabilitation centers with a pet-friendly policy aid in treating those suffering from various types of addiction and disabilities. This therapeutic approach is referred to as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

As the name suggests, its purpose is to aid in recovering from addiction. However, it is not a cure for addiction! Instead, it is combined with evidence-based therapy to address many mental or emotional illnesses. 

Being responsible for your pet’s needs mirrors the effects of drugs and alcohol on your brain. Drugs momentarily flood the brain’s pleasure centers with the “feel-good hormone,” dopamine. The brain becomes acclimated to these drugs over time, and the patient becomes depressed without them. AAT is utilized to reconfigure the brain to produce more sustained pleasure naturally. This is possible when a patient concentrates on keeping his pet happy, which indirectly brings him joy and speeds up his rehabilitation. Furthermore, the more time you spend with your pet – whether playing with it or caring for it – the less time you have to think about your addictions.

People who own emotional support dogs routinely take their pets for walks, which keeps them physically active and increases their social relationships. It’s a universal truth that most people are drawn to pet dogs.  They always long to touch the dog, stroke it on the back, and comment on how adorable it is. Through this, you get to meet new people and make new friends. This makes loneliness disappear and keeps depression in check. 

Animal Assisted Therapy Is Not For Everyone 

No two men are entirely alike. Support animals are not recommended for people who do not like animals, are known to hurt animals, or are afraid of interacting with certain support animals. People who have allergies to fur, hair, or dander of certain animals are also advised against getting support animals.

Seeking Pet-Friendly Rehabs

Going through loneliness, depression, anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, and other undesirable events associated with rehabilitation for a month or longer is no mean feat. Thankfully, emotional support animals’ emergence has reduced these concerns considerably. Hence, why all addiction rehab centers in the United States of America are now pet-friendly; they now allow support dogs to accompany their owners through treatment on a case-by-case basis. 

Now that you can differentiate between emotional support animals vs. service animals and also understand the importance of pet-friendly rehab centers, like Silicon Valley Recovery (408-547-4089), go ahead and choose what’s best for you!