Giving our Time: Recovery, Service, and Volunteering
There is some intangible element or emotional common to people who have successfully stepped back from a substance misuse disorder, either through a recovery program, drug replacement therapy, medication assisted treatment, or any other pathway. Whether life has been made fulfilling or simply extended past reasonable hope, the gratitude for these changes often manifests in an increased desire to help other people in some manner. The form of this help can be abstract, such as working for at environmental cleanup event that benefits all people generally, or more concrete, like volunteering with other people struggling with substance use disorders.
Why we serve
At first, volunteering may be an easy way to fulfill community service hours or keep newly idle hours filled up with healthy activity. We may use these as opportunities to build a resume or explore career options. Beyond these external benefits are other, less visible, advantages. Volunteering may bring us into closer contact with those whose lives are more challenging than our own, helping us to acknowledge with gratitude the good things we have gained in recovery. Spending time assisting others also allows us to focus on more than our own problems, if only for a few minutes or hours. Being in recovery is no guarantee that our lives will become problem-free, but by serving the needs of other people, generally or individually, we are devoting our time and energy to positive action, which can help our outlook in both the short- and long-term.
Connecting to others
In early recovery particularly, we can feel somewhat isolated. Old friends who are still enmeshed in an unhealthy lifestyle might feel like our only socialization option if we do not take action to develop new friendships! One way to expand our healthy social circle is via volunteering. We might find other volunteers, or even the individuals we are assisting, to be positive people whom we wish to surround ourselves with. While we’re all still human and vulnerable to failings and foibles, beginning to develop a healthy support network will increase our feelings of connection, belonging, and self-worth.
Coming into recovery often opens new doors of potential, but for many, funding remains an obstacle to reaching educational goals. The Ammon Foundation provides scholarships for people in recovery who need financial assistance to return to school. Recipients of Ammon Scholarships vary widely in age and background but are all united in their commitment to recovery and personal improvement. Please visit our blog to learn more!