If you’re relatively new to recovery and don’t yet feel quite steady, you may not feel like you’re the best person to be helping others. However, volunteering can be a great way to strengthen your recovery. 12-step groups like AA have always recognized this and made volunteering an integral part of their program. Of course, you don’t have to be working a 12-step program to volunteer. Wherever you are in your recovery, here are some ways volunteering can make your recovery stronger.
It helps make amends
Many people in recovery feel lingering guilt or shame from their behavior during active addiction. Even if you’ve addressed this in treatment, you may still feel like you have to repay a debt to society. People working the 12 steps sometimes find that the people they most want to make amends to won’t talk to them. In that case, the best option may be to volunteer. For example, if you used to get drunk and hit your girlfriend, you might consider volunteering for a domestic violence charity. You can give when you used to take. This not only helps solve problems for other people, it improves your self-esteem and makes you happier. Studies have shown that volunteering a few hours a week is a reliable way to improve your happiness.
It connects you to other people
It can be hard to make new friends after treatment. Many of your old friends and family may not trust you yet, and you should avoid your friends you used to drink or use drugs with. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and you are already connected by a common cause. Regularly spending time with the same people for a common purpose is the easiest way to make new friends.
It gives you something to do
It’s often said that volunteering gives you a purpose. This might be a stretch, especially at first. Having a purpose takes time and you may eventually find it in volunteering. In the beginning, it will be something to do, which is pretty important too. Boredom and isolation are major stumbling blocks for people in recovery. Having somewhere to be and having people depend on you even in a small way gives structure to your life and gives you a reason to get out of the house and interact with other people.
It may lead to work
Although the greatest rewards of volunteering are intrinsic, such as feeling good about helping others, there may be some practical benefits as well. It can be tough for people recovering from addiction to find work. Volunteering is a way to make new connections and show that you’re reliable and trustworthy. It’s a way to rebuild your reputation and possibly learn new skills.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.