As alumnae in recovery, we often are looking for ways to give back to our communities after how much we feel we’ve been helped, by our family and friends, by the staff of our treatment centers, by our sponsors, therapists, recovery coaches, doctors and mentors. Many of us feel we wouldn’t have been as successful in our recovery without the love and support of the people in our corner. When we’re thinking about how we can make a positive contribution, there are countless different opportunities for us to explore. Any acts of service we take part in serve as part of our recovery and help us continue to develop and improve ourselves as we heal.
Service helps to give us a sense of purpose. It brings us fulfillment and personal satisfaction like few other things can. When we help others, we feel more connected to them, to our inner selves, and to all of humanity. We see just how interconnected we all are, and how universal certain elements of human nature actually are – pain and suffering, struggle and survival, redemption and recovery. Service brings us face to face with some of the most intense problems in our communities – poverty, homelessness, hunger, illness, injustice. We can feel overwhelmed at the weight of it all, but we should remind ourselves that every single small part we play makes a huge difference.
We impact the people we serve in countless ways. We make them feel appreciated and valued. We give them a sense of dignity that their difficult circumstances often deny them. We give them a sense of hope. We can reach them with our optimism and positivity, while inspiring, uplifting and encouraging them, and sharing everything we’ve learned thus far in recovery. We can continue to grow and learn together, as many service projects allows us to forge new friendships and connections with the goal of continuing to learn together.
When we serve, we’re also being helped and taught. We’re being guided in our own personal development. It can be humbling to see just how much we have to learn, how much we still want to do in our lives, how much we feel we want to improve ourselves. It can be even more humbling to be taught these lessons by people we assume are in worse positions in life than we are. This humility is part of the education we receive from our service. We expand in ways we might never have imagined. We become better, stronger, more well-rounded versions of ourselves. We develop parts of ourselves that may have gone untapped – our empathy, our sincerity, our passion, and our commitment to other people.
When we commit to a cause in recovery, we’re serving a purpose bigger than ourselves. Our recovery can have us totally caught up in our own issues. We’re desperately trying to heal ourselves of our afflictions. When we’re on the road to recovery, we start to see how much bigger these issues actually are. Addiction and mental illness affect so many of us, with too many people going untreated and unhelped. We can be a source of support and love for people who might not receive those things anywhere else in their lives. So many people don’t have the family, friends or network that we’ve been blessed with. We feel it’s the least we can do to return the favor to anyone who might need it.
Volunteering and serving others expand us in ways that other personal development avenues simply can’t. A class or group activity can have a lot to teach us, for example, but service grows us in special and unique ways. When we give back, we feel strengthened in our life’s purpose. We feel deeply satisfied with who we are and how we’re helping others. We feel more aligned with the truth of who we are. We often feel we’ve neglected our higher purpose, for years of our lives. We’ve sacrificed this purpose for the sake of our addictions and the lifestyles we had to create to maintain our addictions. When we’re in recovery, we can feel a strong calling to return to that purpose, and service is one of the most powerful ways to do that. We start to feel like ourselves again. We start to feel connected to ourselves again.
When we’re afraid we might relapse, a common and normal fear during recovery, our service to others can help keep us on track. We’re part of something much bigger than our own personal journey. We now feel responsible to other people who look up to us. We’ve earned their respect and admiration, and we don’t want to let them down. We don’t want to disappoint them. Our commitment to other people is part of our service, and it helps remind us of the importance of staying sober. We are now not only responsible for our own recovery. We feel responsible for other people’s recovery as well. All of us are strengthened as a result. We are empowered by the connections we develop in service. We’re reminded of our vulnerability and our fragility, but also of our tremendous strength and capacity for growth and transformation. We see other people’s incredible stories of resilience and are reminded that we too can keep going.
Service is so much more than helping others. We help ourselves, uplift ourselves, and bolster our recovery in profound ways when we serve. We can think of service as one of the tools of our recovery that can assist us in our personal evolution.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.