“It’s better to give than to receive,” they say, and it is true.
However, giving while receiving has its benefits too! Volunteering and giving back while in recovery and receiving treatment for a substance use disorder is extremely beneficial for your continued growth.
Studies show that volunteering and all of its psychological benefits can lower stress, make you feel better, and can even help in the management of some chronic conditions. These benefits, paired with your other healthy lifestyle changes, will ultimately benefit your physical body as well.
Volunteering is an excellent source for self-growth and confidence building. Through opportunities to give back, you are able to explore new paths, hobbies, or even career paths that you may not have considered as options otherwise. What you choose to do with these new skills and learning experiences will depend on your enjoyment of them. The benefit of learning as a volunteer is the ability to have a “no-strings-attached” opportunity for skill building.
When you are just starting out in recovery, your self-confidence can be at an all-time low. By volunteering, you can gain some of that confidence in yourself back. Being appreciated and feeling needed is a great motivator to stay sober and continue helping.
While in a volunteer position, you are thrust into a group of other volunteers that you likely do not yet know. This is a wonderful opportunity to network and grow new friendships. Through the common interest of giving back, you are likely to find at least a few kindred spirits that you share other hobbies or similarities with.
Volunteering can also be a catalyst for a new job opportunity. Whether it is through your dedicated work for the organization you are helping or through a connection made with another volunteer, doors can open to new ventures.
While in the depths of a substance use disorder, your priorities are skewed and helping others can take a back seat. You may have inadvertently hurt others you know and care about. Doing positive things for others is a way to start repairing those burned bridges while cultivating your feelings of self-worth.
Substance abuse can also land you in hot water legally. Whether your actions under the influence affected the community as a whole or just a few people, giving back to the community through volunteering helps you feel as though you are redeeming yourself.
Volunteering keeps you busy and gives you something to focus on. At St. Gregory Recovery Center, we’ve found that these are two very effective ways of preventing relapse. Giving your mind a purposeful task that has a positive effect on those around you not only quiets the temptation or negative emotions in your own head but also holds you accountable to those you volunteer for and with!
Lead by Example
Through your volunteerism, you can become a motivator for others. Whether you choose to share your personal recovery journey is ultimately up to you, but you can be a positive role model for others.
Maybe your volunteer opportunity can place you in the path of others struggling with their own substance use. This is a chance for you to lend others a helping hand just as you received help and support to seek treatment at our Iowa drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
Seeing someone else who has been in their shoes and found a way to recover from substance abuse is a very effective motivator. You may simply plant the seed in their mind that recovery is possible, or you may be the last push they need to seek help. Regardless of your involvement, your giving back will affect those you come in contact with—in more ways than you may ever know!