Giving Back: Finding Healing in Helping Others

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Giving Back: Finding Healing in Helping Others

Helping people through similar issues of addiction can bring about personal healing during your life in recovery

As a recovering addict or alcoholic becomes more accustomed to life in recovery, she may find that helping other people through recovery can increase her likelihood of long-term sobriety. Giving back to other people is a common theme among recovery programs: for instance, as members of the 12-Step program become more comfortable with their sobriety efforts, they may eventually be encouraged to help new members fit in and excel in the work. This kind of work creates mutually beneficial relationships that heal everyone involved.

By helping other people overcome addiction, recovering addicts can find personal healing in a number of ways, but it is important to note that recovering addicts need to be comfortable helping other addicts without risking relapse. In other words, helping another addict can be beneficial as long as the person who is helping stays away from drugs while offering assistance.

First, helping other addicts overcome addiction can serve as a reminder for former addicts to keep working on sobriety. Eventually, recovering addicts may experience complacency, which means they could fantasize about using drugs yet again. To prevent that problem, helping other addicts through recovery can serve as a reminder of the struggles and consequences of addiction. When a recovering addict sees the hardships that an addict experiences while he tries to break free from drugs, it can serve as much needed reality check for the person who is helping.

Depression is a common theme among recovering addicts, but volunteering to help others through similar struggles can combat depression. Helping other people decreases depression by providing camaraderie, instilling self-worth and bringing out a sense of purpose in life. In short, as a recovering addict donates her time to helping other addicts, they will greatly increase their own self-esteem, which can heal a struggle with depression1.

Furthermore, drug addicts often have a poor or sporadic work history that can make it difficult to secure a good job when they begin recovery. However, volunteering with organizations and supporting other addicts through recovery can look appealing on job applications, which may set you apart from other candidates. You can increase the likelihood of staying drug-free by securing a good job in recovery that brings about fulfillment and passion.

Lastly, drug addicts typically focus on their cravings and obtaining drugs, so they end up becoming self-absorbed. However, helping other addicts in recovery can ward off that mindset, because volunteering takes attention of the self and puts it on someone else who is in need. In short, recovering addicts tend to worry about their problems and needs so much that it actually makes it difficult to stay clean, but helping other addicts puts the focus on someone else and solving those problems, which can be wonderful for recovery. When a recovering addict helps solve the problems of another addict, he may end up resolving his own problems naturally2.

How to Help Others Recover from Addiction

Numerous organizations staff recovering addicts to help other people recover from substance abuse. For instance, join a 12-step program to help others while perhaps finding a purpose for your experience with addiction. If you visit addicts in prison or at hospitals, then you can give them sober community while also encouraging sobriety. Visiting addicts when they are at their lowest points can be a saving grace to people who are in deep need.

Additionally, recovering addicts could become motivational speakers and visit schools to help adolescents stay away from drugs. Sharing your personal story of drug use and the real consequences that with it can be eye opening to teenagers, because they may understand the reality of what drugs can do to them and their lives. Such visits may also be great opportunities to discuss how those teens can overcome peer pressure and the influence of adults around them who use drugs or alcohol. By connecting with these teens, you may offer them the community they need to get and stay clean from drugs.

While helping other people can heal some of your own wounds from addiction, be aware of the potential dangers of helping drug addicts. Recovering addicts who have only been clean for a few months or years need to focus on themselves for some time to ensure that they stay drug-free for the long haul. In other words, if you help other people too soon in your recovery, then you can put yourself in a situation that you are unprepared to handle. For instance, if you try to support a recovering addict, then she may request you to pick her up from a party or gathering where drugs are present. If you are still fledgling in your own recovery, then being in the presence of drugs or alcohol may lead to relapse. In short, help other people, but do so carefully.

Find Professional Treatment for Substance Abuse or Addiction

If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse or addiction, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Do not live with your addiction any longer, and call us now for instant support.


1 Alcohol Rehab, “Helping Others in Recovery,”,, (Cited January 10, 2016).

2 Narconon, “Why Helping Others Can Be Best Cure for Addiction,”,, (Cited January 10, 2016).

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