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Giving Back: Why Giving Is a Great Way to Receive

Many people see volunteer work as a way to help others, but, when you are a recovering addict, giving back can benefit you just as much as the community, if not more. After you go through addiction treatment, you may feel secure in recovery and ready to face the world, but the time after treatment ends can strongly challenge your sobriety. However, giving back reinforces the principles that you learned in rehab, gives you purpose and prevents other people from going through the same pain that addiction caused you.

Volunteering Your Time

Giving Back: Why Giving Is a Great Way to Receive

After rehab ends, volunteer work is a great way to stay involved in the recovery process

After rehab ends, volunteer work is a great way to stay involved in the recovery process, as it gives you a sense of purpose. During rehab, your entire life was structured by the treatment program, from the time you woke up in the morning to what you ate and which classes you attended. Structure is important in the recovery, but after treatment ends you reenter an unprotected environment. In response, volunteering gives you a way to fill your spare time with meaningful activities that keep you plugged into recovery.

Too much spare time can be a recovering addict’s worst enemies, as boredom, time to dwell on stress and feeling unfulfilled make it that much easier to relapse. However, helping other recovering addicts is one of the best activities after rehab ends, because sharing your experience empowers you and helps people avoid some of the troubles that you encountered. Potential volunteer opportunities include helping a 12-Step program, sponsoring someone in recovery or serving a local non-profit organization that focuses on substance abuse. There are countless ways that you can make a difference, like by sharing your story with other people that you already know. In other words, evaluate your situation and find an activity that will benefit both you and the community to augment your sobriety.

Helping Other Recovering Addicts Improves Your Recovery

Volunteering in the recovery community decreases the risk of relapse. Research published in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly examined the relationship between Service to Others in Sobriety—a component of Alcoholics Anonymous—and future drinking outcomes: this study shows a significant relationship between the amount of time people spend serving others and the length of time they spend sober[1]. Another study published in the Journal of Studies on Drugs and Alcohol shows that people who help others not only helps both parties, but that the time immediately after rehab ends is the best time to get involved. Participants who helped other alcoholics near the end of their own rehab times were significantly less likely to relapse in the 12 months after rehab than those not helping others. 40% of those who helped others at the end of rehab avoided relapse in the next 12 months compared to only 22% of other users[2].

Statistically speaking, users are most likely to relapse in the first three months after rehab, so focusing on recovery and filling your free time with positive activities during this period can help you stay on track[3]. Volunteering with other recovering addicts often occurs in halfway houses, rehab facilities or homeless shelters where the work can impact people’s lives. In other words, volunteering to help others, especially in the time directly after treatment ends, can make a difference in your life and the people you help.

Giving Back Monetarily

You can add a lot of value to the treatment community by volunteering or mentoring other people, because you have your own special abilities and talents to lend. You can lend valuable insight to people, because you have been in similar situations as they. Also, users in recovery need access to psychologists, rehab services and addiction counselors to stay clean, but extensive research and development must be performed to come up with more effective treatment methods. All of these aspects cost a considerable amount of money and are crucial for minimizing the damage that addiction causes society. In short, volunteering helps other people, but donating money to addiction-focused organizations assists others who are also helping addicts recover. Make a monetary donation to deepen your investment in recovery—the more involved you are, the less likely it is to turn back to substance abuse. Even donating a token amount of money to support addiction recovery may remind you to stay clean when you have the opportunity to relapse.

Help Quitting Opium

Opium addiction is a formidable opponent, but you do not have to face it alone. It takes teamwork to defeat addiction, which starts when you enroll in rehab and work with counselors and addiction specialists to advance through recovery. To find out how you can start your recovery journey, pick up the phone and call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our admissions coordinators are knowledgeable about rehab and can to answer your questions about what to expect from treatment. Call now to find out if your health insurance will help pay for rehab, and let our staff refer you to an effective treatment program where you can begin recovery.


[1] Service to Others in Sobriety by Maria E. Pagano

[2] Helping Other Alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous and Drinking Outcomes: Findings from Project MATCH by Maria E. Pagano

[3] Figure 1, Helping Other Alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous and Drinking Outcomes: Findings from Project MATCH