Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

The Importance of Volunteering in Recovery

People suffering from addiction are going through an incredibly difficult and complicated time in their lives. Whether you are recovering from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or some other form of addiction, seeking help to get your life back on track can be a huge, tough step. However, recognizing you have a problem is only the first step to recovery.

In 2016, there were 14,399 substance abuse facilities in the U.S. These facilities provide a shared space for individuals who are looking to get clean that is free from the influence of drugs and alcohol. They help prevent drug overdoses by offering counseling, group therapy, and encouraging participation in activities that will help an addict through their recovery. One such activity is volunteering for local organizations, which can often use a hand as much as someone struggling with addiction.

Nature of Recovery

Although recognizing you have a problem and going to rehab are the first steps to getting clean, there’s always a long road of recovery ahead after substance abuse. However, there are some common misconceptions about rehab centers and addiction that can end up making the recovery process more difficult than it needs to be. One of these is the idea that you can’t go to rehab unless your life has completely fallen apart, such as by losing your job and family. The truth is, rehab centers are there whenever you feel that you want to overcome your addiction.

Another misconception is that if you’ve tried rehab before and it didn’t work for you then, it’s no longer an option. The truth is, many rehab centers take different approaches to helping patients get clean; some treatment centers focus on holistic approaches while others use traditional medicines and pharmaceuticals to help people suffering from addiction detox. This can be especially important for individuals who have been abusing substances like heroin or meth long-term, as this can cause significant damage to the dopamine receptors in the brain. This can cause an inability to experience pleasure, known as anhedonia, and can make recovery from this addiction particularly difficult.

The mental and physical factors involved in addiction make it an extremely difficult situation to overcome — even with all the care, support and medical attention a rehab center has to offer. Will power, emotional support, and the ability to move forward play crucial roles in recovery and preventing a relapse from occurring, which happens in 40 to 60 percents of addicts. Although relapse is discouraging and feels like a step back, it’s a common part of the recovery process and is simply an indicator that the treatment plan needs to be adjusted to meet your needs.

How Volunteering Helps

One activity that has been proven to help struggling addicts is the act of volunteering. Community service can help a person to feel more involved in their community, which can be a grounding experience for someone struggling with addiction. Giving back to the community can provide an addict with a confidence boost that can be encouraging to someone who struggles to feel anything after months or years of drug abuse.

Volunteering is also a good way to network and find a new job. It’s not uncommon for an addict to lose their job once they get admitted into rehab, especially if addiction symptoms led to serious problems at work. Volunteering can not only help open new doors through networking, it’s also a good way to get you back into a set of responsibilities and on a schedule — not to mention it helps fill employment gaps and looks great on a resume.

Importance of Volunteering

Volunteering helps people struggling with addiction stay sober by giving them something meaningful to participate in that can help take their mind off the stress and anxieties that can trigger cravings. Community service is often impersonal, which makes it a low-stress situation for recovering addicts, where they can simply do their best and go from there. Staying busy and performing selfless activities can help improve mental health, which can often be an underlying factor in a person’s inability to get clean.

However, by participating in community service and communicating with other individuals who are also trying to do good, an addict can get new perspective on what’s important in life and new goals they should strive towards. This can help a person battling addiction to get their life back on track, and further away from the consequences of addiction. Recovering from addiction is incredibly difficult to do alone and behind closed doors, which is why rehab is such an important first step to overcoming addiction.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70,200 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017. Attending rehab and working towards recovery can help lower that number; and by incorporating volunteering into an addict’s rehab plan, we can help them get back on their feet with a stronger foundation underneath them.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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