The value of volunteering in recovery

One of the best ways for us to deal with our own problems is to help someone else with theirs.

This is especially true for those in recovery. Addiction is frequently associated with selfishness, and people in recovery have probably experienced years of being called selfish and irresponsible.

Although they're not helpful, in most cases of addiction, these labels are not entirely unwarranted. Addiction promotes selfishness. It's difficult for actively addicted people to see beyond themselves. Combined with an inclination to avoid pain at all costs, and the attraction of getting something for nothing, this faulty reasoning is perpetuated.

Of course, this isn't confined to chemically-dependent people. Generally, people want to lose weight without watching their diet or exercising, and dream of winning the lottery rather than putting in the time and effort to earn a good living. This is exaggerated by addiction, however.

Addiction is a self-serving behavior, since it is predicated by the objective of feeling good now, regardless of how it affects those who are in the addicted person's path.

It's not unusual for this type of thinking to continue into sobriety. While abstinence is a significant milestone in recovery, it shouldn't be the end goal in long-term recovery.

In years of active addiction, it is likely that ties have been cut with family members, friends, and employers. Ties with the non-using community at large have also been adversely affected.

Even when people in recovery have achieved a period of time without drinking or using addictive drugs, they may still have a long road ahead of them.

Many people in early recovery find themselves out of work, often with limited prospects, and the stress of being unemployed can itself be detrimental to long-term recovery. Whereas their time may have once been filled by using and preparing to use, they now find themselves sober but depressed, and with a lot of time on their hands. This could be disastrous.

Volunteering can help them to bring balance to their lives. Volunteering even a few hours a week can have a positive impact both for the volunteer and those who they are assisting.

Volunteering can help them to reclaim a sense of belonging that they may have lost while in active addiction. Helping others can help someone in recovery to renew a sense of purpose and provide a boost in self-esteem, all the while giving to others. Volunteering gives them a chance to surround themselves with positive influences, while helping to further the goals of the organization or effort they have become a part of.

By volunteering, they can give back to an organization that has aided them in their recovery process and, if this is an organization focused on recovery, they are also helping others to find the right path.

When all we can think of is our own problems, these problems may appear overwhelming and inescapable. By contrast, volunteering requires us to think about someone other than ourselves. Even a few hours a week can provide a useful contrast to the selfishly focused mindset, providing another perspective.

While in active addiction, people are not in control of their own lives because alcohol or substance use dominates their time and efforts. Being able to do something helpful to others can bring about a sense of empowerment. Contributing to a worthwhile cause gives them a sense of purpose and a reason to exist without alcohol or substance use, and this is important to long-term recovery.

Generally, volunteering involves interactions with others, such as the people who are being helped, as well as other volunteers and staff. Thus, this encourages connections that are another important component of long-term recovery. After all, people in recovery need relationships with people who aren't using.

Volunteering also fosters teamwork, cooperation, and leadership skills. Through volunteering, people in recovery can learn new skills and try new things in a healthy environment.

In addition to one-on-one relationships, volunteering helps people in recovery to become a contributing part of a larger community. Over time, this can help to restore an interest and involvement in society, strengthening the sense of purpose and belonging.

Through volunteering, people in recovery can network with people from various backgrounds, developing social and professional connections that may prove helpful in many ways.

As you can see, volunteering isn't solely about the people who are being help by your volunteer efforts, although that is clearly helpful, as well.

A great option for people in recovery who want to give back to their community is to volunteer at an addiction recovery center, such as Pir2Peer Recovery Community Center. In addition to the satisfaction that comes from community service, volunteering at Pir2Peer can be particularly rewarding for people in recovery, as it allows people in recovery to show appreciation, but to also mentor and support others who are seeking a path to recovery.

Volunteers in recovery can serve as an inspiration for those who are seeking the path to recovery, and may be feeling apprehensive, defeated, or hopeless.

Although most of the benefit is to those who are seeking help, volunteering at a recovery center can also be immensely beneficial to people in recovery. Regularly being in an environment that discourages addiction is clearly helpful, but helping people who are as bad off as the volunteer once was can serve as an incentive to continue in sobriety.

Other ways to give back may include taking a larger role in whatever recovery support program has helped you to be successful in your own recovery, or to another program that you may have taken an interest in.

Pir2Peer Recovery Center always has room for volunteers, and your help would be especially appreciated during our transition into our new building in Medway. There is a lot of work to be done and, while you won't be expected to do it all, whatever time you can spare will be put to good use.