The early stages of addiction recovery can find a recovering addict working through feelings of low self-esteem, loneliness, or even depression as he or she adjusts to life after substance abuse. It’s a time that is largely centered around self-reflection and even selfishness, as the addict must work to sort out any deep-seated psychological issues and create a new lifestyle that is free of addiction. Fortunately, recovering addicts have several tools at their disposal to help them through this time—alumni support groups, addiction recovery coaches, knowledge gained during the treatment process, and techniques learned in intensive treatment. One other source of upliftment and motivation that can be highly beneficial for recovering addicts is volunteer work. Here are some ways that service might help you during your recovery from addiction.
Use your experience to lift others.
Sharing your experience with fellow recovering addicts might be just the thing you need to stay on track in your own recovery. Sharing your experience can help you to remind yourself of how far you have come, see what overcoming addiction has done for your life, and remain accountable for a continued successful recovery. There are several ways to help others while drawing on your past experiences, such as writing a guest post for an addiction recovery blog or presenting at an addiction recovery support group. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that there are potential pitfalls when volunteering with fellow recovering addicts; some find that they need to focus more of their free time on a life away from their past addictions.
Find something you’re passionate about.
The early stages of recovery are a highly introspective time when it’s important to learn more about yourself and what drives you. The world of volunteering might just the place to find that. Look at organizations that are doing things that inspire you, such as an animal rescue organization, or an organization dedicated to curing a particular disease, illness, or disorder.
Prepare for work.
Volunteering can also give you the practice you need to eventually head back into the workplace. It can also tell employers who might be skeptical about gaps in your resume more about who you really are.
Build a positive circle of friends.
Volunteering can also connect you with positive influences who have similar interests to you. Including these people in your circle of friends—and by extension, your support circle—can help tremendously during those times in your recovery when you need upliftment and motivation.
Find joy in serving others.
With serving others comes a lasting joy that truly cannot be achieved in any other way. Those you serve will benefit tremendously from your efforts, but you may just find that you are the one who benefits the most from the work that you do.