Losing a pet is never easy. Some people grieve for years, and some need counseling to get them through this difficult time. Try now to image what would happen if your pet lost you. This is one of the many reasons to steer clear of illicit drugs: you never know who you’re hurting. There are so many things that can happen to your beloved pet when you’re sober, and what can happen to them might be more than what some pet owners are willing to face.

Addiction absolutely affects everything about your life, and your pets are no exception. Staying away from addictive drugs and alcohol is a decision that you make not only for the humans that you love, but also your furry friends who would be lost without you.

If You’re Single…

impact of addiction on petsThe story is more common than you may think. Normally, we think of someone running off and leaving children to fend for themselves as a monster. But a dog or cat, left alone for days at a time, is in a dangerous place. People who party frequently can be prone to this type of behavior, and the pet always suffers. Hard partying can also be the beginning of addiction, so it’s important to moderate and manage your nightlife and alcohol consumption. It’s hard to be single and responsible for a pet – if something happened to you, there may not be anyone available to take care of your pet. Fish are fragile, too – a few missed feedings, and their health is in serious trouble. Spending so much time away from your pet can weaken your bond with them, and the bond you have with your pet is important and imperative to keeping your pet healthy.

Though part of the reason that cats are beloved is due to their independence, domestic cats can have a difficult time hunting for food, and it’s even more difficult when they’re confined indoors. As independent as a cats are, a single person living with addiction will often lose track of time, forgetting to feed their pet, or change the litter. Without food, your cat will obviously be hungry, but they will also be at risk of malnutrition, low blood sugar, and a decreased immunity.

Don’t forget the other obvious danger of addiction to drugs and alcohol for your pet: they themselves may come in contact with the substances that you’re using. A single, very small dose is all that’s needed to kills some small animals. Larger dogs may be badly sickened, and require hospitalization. It is also possible that, with enough exposure or contact to addictive drugs, your dog or cat could become addicted to some drugs. Meth, cocaine, and tobacco can all get your pet addicted, and very, very sick. Edible drug treats are no less dangerous for pets than the substances themselves. In fact, the combination of chemical and sugar and wheat could be enough to poison your pet, causing them unnecessary pain and placing you in a financially precarious position. If your pet begins vomiting, shaking, or stumbling, take your pet to the emergency room immediately.

Remember that being a loving owner to your pet means taking responsibility for placing paraphernalia clear out of reach of pets. Animals are naturally curious, and many people can tell you stories of how their pets have destroyed furniture, shoes, accessories, electronics, and many more items.

If You’re Married…

Living with a dependent spouse is difficult and heartbreaking. While the sober spouse may be able to maintain the home, the additional responsibility of a pet may be overwhelming. Living with a person with addiction often involves cleaning up after them, and tending them as any other sick person would need. With all of the housework and food management on one person, someone can easily become overwhelmed, and neglect even the most deserving pet. Pet neglect is a greater concern than pet abuse – while neglect is itself abusive, the more typical abusive behaviors, like violent reactions, tend to occur less often than neglectful behavior in people living with drug and alcohol addiction. With that said, it is not unheard of, nor impossible for pet owners to react violently to their pets’ basic needs. At this point, it is often the case that an owner’s life has begun to revolve around the drug, and the need to fulfill a craving for that high.

With everything going on in the mind of a person with a growing addiction, it is easy to see why pets inevitably suffer when they have owners living with addiction. From the risk of dehydration and malnutrition to outbursts to which your pet is vulnerable, your pet may not always be able to receive the care that they need if your spouse has to care for you. What can make a pet’s situation even more complicated? Children.

If You’re a Married Parent

The responsibility to keep a family going during a spouse’s experience with drug addiction drives many people to lose hope, and divorce, making a potentially complicated situation for children and pets. Custody battles are almost certainly lost on the part of the addicted parents in these cases, and life of your pet will change forever. Children could be a tangible benefit if a pet’s owner is living with addiction to drugs and alcohol: children may be able to take responsibility for care of a pet, but this isn’t always realistic. Depending on the severity of their parent’s or parents’ addiction, children may or may not have the strength and focus necessary to really care for a pet. Older children are most likely to be helpful, but if they’re dealing with depression, or have become difficult as a result of their home life, they may be less reliable as well. This, too, can affect a pet owned by a person living with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

The effect that drugs can have on your family, your job, and your pets can seriously affect everyone that loves you. You don’t have to live through addiction alone. Contact a local reputable rehab facility.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.