How Can Volunteering Help Your Recovery?
The best thing that you can do when you are grappling with a substance use disorder is seek out treatment. Structured, professional treatment will provide you with support, direction, and purpose. You can dedicate all of your energy into taking the small steps down the road to recovery. For help finding treatment that’s right for you, call 800-683-3270 (Who Answers?) .
Excellent rehab programs will help you transition back to your everyday life when you complete your rehabilitation. Often, they offer some forms of aftercare. The reason for this is that living a life without drug and alcohol treatment can feel empty.
For so long, your addiction is the focus of your life. How do you get drugs? When can you use them? In treatment, you focus all of your energy on abstaining from drug use and learning how to lead a sober life. But, what do you focus on when you are out of treatment? What fills that void. Well, you may be tempted to fill it with a relapse.
To prevent backsliding, you need to give your life purpose. One way to do this is through volunteering.
Volunteering is one way to support recovery after treatment, but you need the rehab first. For help finding a facility that will meet your needs, call our helpline at 800-683-3270 (Who Answers?) and speak to someone who can help. Our experts will happily answer questions.
A lot of damaging thoughts and feelings will follow you from addiction into treatment and out to recovery. The big double whammy is made of guilt and shame. These terms might feel like different words for the same thing, but addiction specialists argue that isn’t the case.
Shame refers to a universal adverse belief about yourself; you feel this as a reaction to an offence or failing. Grief, on the other hand, is an adverse belief about a particular event.
Volunteering can act to diminish these feelings. Any lingering shame you feel about being selfish as part of your addiction can be countered by acting selflessly.
During your addiction, you probably did a lot of taking. Even if you weren’t outright stealing to feed your drug use, you weren’t contributing positively to the lives of people around you. Volunteering is the exact opposite; it is all about contributing.
Once you begin giving to those around you, you will feel some of your self-respect return. You will also see yourself as someone who matters to others.
Preparing for Work
Recovering addicts often face barriers to work because of an absence from the work force or poor job performance when actively using. Volunteering is a good way to demonstrate behaviors that matter to employers. In addition to building valuable job skills, volunteering is a great addition to a resume. You may also get job leads from your volunteer positions or the people you serve in them.
Speaking of the people you serve, recovery depends upon a positive support system and connecting with people through your volunteer work will be a way of working on that. In addition, you will be needing to make new, sober contacts anyway, so that you can move away from your old patterns and behaviors. Get to know some likeminded people through your service work.
Service with Addicts
You might be interested in volunteering with addicts, so that you can give back. An example is serving as a sponsor in a 12 step program. Honestly, you should build up to this. As noted above, you can use volunteering to build new friends to break you of old negative patterns. But, connecting with struggling addicts won’t do that. It could actually trigger relapse.
Does it Work?
Sheffield Hallam University reported on “Life in Recovery, the first systematic attempt to capture how people overcome alcohol and drug addiction and maintain their recovery in the UK.”
Eight out of ten people in long-term recovery—five years or more—had volunteered in community service since beginning their recovery. Only four in ten members of the general public do so. Clearly, volunteering is both an important part of recovery and one that helps maintain it.
For more recovery advice and help finding qualified treatment, give our treatment helpline a call at 800-683-3270 (Who Answers?) .