When you were in the depths of addiction, you most likely didn’t think a lot about other people. Addiction is a selfish disease that can cause individuals to only think about their wants and perceived needs, such as where their next fix will come from and how they can hide their actions from those who care about them. Recovery allows you to start fresh and begin giving back to those that moved you out of that dark place and into the light. Giving back is a great way to not only help others but to benefit your recovery too. Understanding the different kinds of service work available, why it’s important, and what actions are best for you, you can begin the journey of giving back to the community that brought you back to life.
Why Is Service Work Important?
The purpose of giving back to the community is to help those in need and give thanks to those that helped you reclaim your life. However, giving back can also help you feel better about yourself and your actions. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has published a study that found that your brain’s pleasure centers are activated as you give to those in need, even at a personal cost. Service work can help your overall recovery by boosting your happiness and knowing that you are making a difference.
Another reason service work is important is because it draws you closer to the recovery community at large. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recovery requires four dimensions to help support it: health, home, purpose, and community. Giving back is a great way to address three dimensions: health, community, and purpose. Helping those in need creates a bond with these individuals, as they may give back to you at a time when you are in need.
Giving back also helps you have a sense of purpose, which is crucial in your new life of sobriety. When you are struggling with addiction, you may feel that you have no purpose or meaning in your life. Finding it in recovery can serve as a great motivator for you to maintain your sobriety for the long haul.
How Can I Give Back?
There are various ways to give back to the recovery community, and you don’t have to be rich to make a difference. Simply donating your time through volunteering can make all the difference in the world when it comes to helping those in need. You also don’t have to go far to start giving back.
If you attend support group meetings, ask how you can help out during each meeting. Help can include setting out chairs, bringing snacks, or offering to sponsor someone that is in early recovery. If volunteering is more your speed, consider helping out at the local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or treatment center. You can stay in touch with your own recovery by helping those that are going through what you once went through yourself. However, you don’t have to stick to only recovery-related volunteering. You can also volunteer at museums, animal shelters, libraries, or local schools. Giving back in any way can be beneficial for both you and your community, and it is essential to do something that gives you purpose as well.
Finding the Right Opportunities For You
When beginning the part of your recovery where you want to start giving back to those in need, it is essential to keep your own mental health and sobriety in mind. Some people thrive when they help out those in early recovery by volunteering at support group meetings or being a sponsor. However, these may not be the best options for you if they serve as emotional triggers in your recovery.
Instead, focus on your strengths and where you believe you can really make a difference. If you have always had a passion for animals, go to your local animal shelter and ask how you can help out. If you want to educate more people about mental health, consider offering lectures about the subject at your local community center. You don’t have to engage in activities that you don’t enjoy doing or that may put your recovery at risk.
To help you find the right opportunities for you, talk to your therapist or treatment staff. These people can help you navigate your strengths and come up with the best options for you. Remember, your peace and your recovery come first.
Service work is an exceptional way to give back to the recovery community. Now that you have reached a point in your recovery that you want to give back, you can do so as a “thank you” to those that got you this far. Considering the ways in which you can give back and what is best for your recovery is crucial to ensure you are protecting your own mental health and sobriety. If you need help getting started, NorthStar Transitions is here to help. We work extensively with our alumni to help enrich their lives in recovery and find ways to stay connected to the community. Our alumni network can offer you numerous opportunities for getting involved and giving back. Remember, you don’t have to donate a large sum of money to make a difference. Simply volunteering your time can change someone’s world. Call NorthStar today to learn more at (303) 558-6400.