One of the reasons why people fail to break away from addiction is they very often have low self-esteem. There is good evidence to suggest that focusing on the needs of others is a good way boosting self-esteem, thereby making it easier to remain free of addiction.
Does Service Offer a Simple Cure for Addiction?
There is always plenty of attention given to new drugs and other expensive treatments that may help individuals break away from addiction. The problem with most of these solutions is that while they may help to get people sober, they do not seem to be so effective at keeping individuals this way long-term. The availability of new treatments adds the arsenal for beating recovery, but it could be the case that the real answer to permanent sobriety is to be found by studying those individuals who have managed to achieve it.
One of the behaviours that many who have achieved lasting sobriety engage in is service. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have a strong focus on helping others; in fact, these fellowships could not exist if it were not for the willingness of the members to volunteer their help. Plenty of evidence suggests that doing service strengthens one’s recovery, which is why it is something that could help anyone hoping to build a life free of addiction.
The Power of Service in Recovery
Helping others is seen as a powerful technique for keeping individuals sober, and this could happen for a number of reasons, including:
- One of the commonalities of people trapped in addiction is they tend to be self-obsessed, which increases the likelihood of developing problems such as depression. Doing service means focusing on others, allowing those doing it to escape the prison of their own minds.
- Another reason is low self-esteem, which means feeling as if one deserves less from life. Helping others is a great way of boosting self-esteem.
- One of the dangers for those who have been sober for a few months is that they could start to forget how bad things were for them, meaning they could begin to romance the drink or drug. One of the benefits of doing volunteer work with those still struggling with addiction is a constant reminder of what could happen if the person relapsed.
- People who engage in this type of activity begin to develop a sense of pride in their ability to positively affect the world. They could then use this to further inspire themselves to make positive changes to their own life.
- Boredom is a real threat to sobriety but voluntary work gives the individual something to do with his or her spare time.
- Engaging in service is a great way to meet new people and develop a social network. This can be important for those in early recovery who do not have many sober friends.
- It has been suggested that helping others can be a form of therapy; this effect is particularly noticeable when helping those who have similar problems.
The Importance of Service in Recovery
The fact that helping others seems to be such a key ingredient for many individuals who have achieved long-term recovery suggests that this is something that anyone seeking sobriety should consider. There are many different types of service to choose from, and it does not have to be anything spectacular. This type of work could involve things like blogging, service at fellowship meetings (for example, greeting newcomers or making the tea), or talking to people still trapped in addiction.