Health Headlines: New therapy uses trained wolves to treat addiction

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Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 9:11 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There are plenty of stories of how dogs and humans are able to connect. But can people and wolves also experience that healing bond and help beat an addiction?

We often think of wolves as ferocious predators, but a new therapy is showing they might also have a gentler side that could help recovering addicts.

Morgan Aitken recalled his time in the therapy, “I felt very calm and relaxed and stress-free. And my mind was clear when I was around Miquan.”

Aitken is 112 days sober and says “Wolf Therapy” helped transform her life.

Clinical director of New Method Wellness DeAnna Crosby explained Aitken’s treatment, “She came here and said, ‘I don’t wanna live like this anymore. I’m suffering, I’m dying. I’m drinking every day. It’s killing me.’ And then she went to the wolves and the wolves don’t see any of that.”

Crosby says wolves instinctively know which patient needs their help the most.

“They’ve gone through trauma. They’ve lived in the wild. They see, they walk up to you and they just see you and you don’t have to pretend anything anymore.”

Their common bond? Crosby says it’s the power of the pack.

“Addiction is about a lack of connection. That’s why addicts connect to each other. And, that’s why they run in a pack. The best thing you can do to treat an addict is help them with connection.”

The owner of Living Life in Recovery Ryan Lamb says such connections are important in an addict’s recovery, “Having the courage to be vulnerable and to open ourselves up to this new experience so that we can authentically connect.”

During the therapy, the wolves help to teach addicts about boundaries and respect. The proported benefits include reduced depression and anxiety, increased self-control, improved interpersonal skills, and elevated self-esteem.

Crosby says all of these things combined are what helped Aitken find the strength to stop drinking.

“The wolf walks up and licks her face and everything changes. And it’s like one connection she has that loves her unconditionally.”

And Aitken agrees.

“Having her around has helped us be more relaxed and know that we’re gonna be okay and that we’re gonna get through all this.”

The wolves in the therapy are trained and certified as therapy dogs. They live in a wolf sanctuary that rescues hurt wolves and discarded wolf-dogs that were abandoned by their owners.