Detoxification is not an easy time for patients in early recovery. Many are still seriously struggling with their addiction while experiencing withdrawal symptoms. At Valiant Living Detox and Assessment, the team likes to start the healing process for patients in a slightly different way—not just with medicine.
“We have always been interested in redefining detoxification and making it more than just medication and nursing. We wanted it to be something outside that box to enhance the patient experience.” says the chief operating officer at Valiant Living Detox and Assessment, Scott Lister, BSN, RN, CARN.
So, we came up with the idea to bring chickens to the detox center. It seems a little unusual but there is a strong therapeutic purpose to it. “We have six acres of land that were not used for anything,” says Lister. “My vision is to start with chickens and possibly add other farm animals later. Right now, we have six egg-laying chickens and we are building a chicken run and a larger coop.”
“It’s been a really neat process so far. It’s brightened everybody’s mood—patients and staff,” says Lister. “People are taking care of the chickens from hatchlings to fully grown birds. They’re in there changing the water and feeding them every day. Patients are going in there, handling the chickens, giving them special names.”
Many different kinds of emotional support animals have been used in addiction treatment and many studies have shown the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy—and not only for substance use disorders. Valiant Living Detox and Assessment has now taken the unusual step of bringing such therapy forward to the detoxification phase of recovery.
“We want to give patients a different detox experience and get them involved in something outside of themselves right away,” explains Lister. “It’s never too early to start that process. A lot of our patients have been living in isolation, disconnected from their families and their peers,” says Lister. “They may have lost their jobs and have experienced medical crises. Just getting outside and hanging out with the chickens can get them away from all those problems and give them an opportunity to connect spiritually with the world around them.”
It’s also an opportunity to consider the path forward to lasting sobriety. Valiant Living Detox and Assessment also helps clients identify co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression and trauma and appropriate therapy options. We created a transitional short-term residential program to make it easier for clients to consider the best way forward after the medical detox. The program helps clients and their families understand often unfamiliar treatment options better. Its emphasis is on post-detox stabilization and it prioritizes treatment planning and next-step care coordination.
Caring for other beings, being of service, and getting outside of yourself are important recovery principles and you can’t get started with that soon enough. “We’re building a big run, so patients can go inside and sit with the birds. Animals are not frontal lobe driven like people but instead by a few primal needs: shelter, food, procreation, and survival and there is something really spiritual about sitting quietly with an animal that you don’t have to talk to but can connect with in a nonverbal way, and you’re actually involved in their survival,” says Lister. “The idea is not to overload patients with a fully operational farm, but to give them just enough exposure to offer them a different healing experience.“
For clients requiring acute addiction treatment services, Valiant Living Detox and Assessment is a 16-bed facility that provides comprehensive care beyond withdrawal management to launch the recovery journey. Detoxification should be supervised by medical professionals. The treatment team at Valiant Living Detox and Assessment utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that includes a medical director, registered nurses, psychiatric nurse practitioners, LPNs, counselors, and addiction technicians.
If you are seeking a more comprehensive start for your treatment of addiction, contact us at 303-647-4932. We provide a safe, supportive haven in the earliest stages of recovery. Get the individualized attention you need for stabilization, assessment, and discerning the best next steps in your journey.