Equine therapy is an innovative treatment method that promotes recovery through interaction with horses. The therapeutic use of animals dates back to ancient times, but it was British physiotherapists in the 1950s who first tested equine therapies for efficacy. By 1969, positive therapeutic outcomes led to the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). Early programs focused on helping patients with disabilities and mental health issues, but more recent studies have found that horse-assisted therapies have applications for addiction, especially with troubled addicts in their teens or early 20s. Through equestrian interaction, the patients are challenged to develop new life skills, rearrange priorities and establish emotional connections, which can all assist in empowering a recovery. As part of an overall treatment program, equine therapy has the potential to reach patients who are less responsive to traditional methods.
What Recovering Amphetamine Addicts Can Expect from Equine Therapy
Equine therapy, which involves oversight by therapists and horse handlers, asks patients to engage in a number of potential tasks, including the following:
- Choosing a particular horse
- Grooming, riding and feeding the horse
- Incorporating therapies like role-playing and role-reversal
- Engaging in guided equine games
Working with horses can enhance a recovering amphetamine addict’s self-confidence and capacity to learn, while teaching several new life skills, including the following:
- Leadership and teamwork
- Non-verbal communication
- Creative thinking
- Problem solving
Furthermore, the New York Times noted in 2008 that the setting change from a treatment center to a horse ranch could make many patients more receptive to learning.
Benefits of Equine Therapy in Amphetamine Addiction Rehab
In addition to developing new life skills, equine therapy can also produce positive psychological outcomes. A 2007 study by the Society and Animals journal noted several ways in which equine therapies can help, including the following:
- Decreases psychological distress levels
- Encourages patients to live more in the present
- Provides opportunities for projection and transference
- Discourages destructive behavioral patterns
- Elicits otherwise suppressed emotions
In the case of amphetamine addiction, abuse is often motivated by desires to get high, fit in with a social circle or stay up late partying, while prescription amphetamine abuse can be an attempt to gain an academic or athletic advantage. Working with horses can counter these motivations in various ways, including the following:
- Establish a social connection that does not involve drugs
- Produce feelings of happiness unrelated to a drug high
- Foster a new set of motivations and life goals
- Provide an impetus to adjust personal priorities
Horses can also provide non-threatening and unbiased reactions to the patient’s behavior and attitude, which can serve as a learning metaphor for how addictive behavior affects loved ones.
Amphetamine Addiction Treatment
Equine therapy is most effective in a comprehensive recovery program where the following traditional treatments are also commonly employed:
- Amphetamine detoxification in a medically managed setting
- Integrated screenings and treatments for mental health issues
- Behavioral therapies to improve emotional and cognitive processes
- Strategies to identify and avoid cues that trigger amphetamine cravings
- Group therapy to foster positive peer support, sharing and encouragement
In addition to equine therapies, many treatment centers offer other outdoor therapies that include nature challenges, adventure sports and hiking.
Our admissions coordinators are ready to take your call 24 hours a day on our toll-free helpline. If you or a loved one struggles with amphetamine addiction, we can discuss a wide variety of treatment options ranging from equine and outdoor therapies to more traditional therapeutic models. We can also provide information on staging an intervention and check health insurance policies for treatment coverage. If you need help, please give us a call now.