Giving Back: Why Giving is a Great Way to Receive

Giving Back: Why Giving is a Great Way to Receive

Giving back to the community is a great way to take the focus off of you and your addiction

Giving back to your community through community service is a great way to refocus your attention from your addiction to something positive. Rehab helped you understand your struggle with substance abuse, recognize relapse triggers and learn coping skills that help you live a drug-free life. Putting those things into practice on a daily basis helps strengthen your resolve to stay clean and sober. And a great way to put your new-found skills into practice is by volunteering. By its very nature, addiction is a selfish and self-centered disease. Every action is directly related to the need for more drugs. Volunteering keeps your attention directed at others and helps you understand that there is more to life than using.

Learning to Interact With Others

One good reason for volunteering after rehab is that it teaches you or your loved one to interact with others in positive ways. While struggling with addiction, your desire for more drugs meant every relationship was seen in that light—how others could help you get and use drugs. Volunteering at a local charity, food or clothing bank or homeless shelter helps you build new and positive relationship with others outside of the drug culture. Volunteering teaches you to communicate in healthy ways and reinforces the importance of helping others without expecting anything in return.

Getting Ready for Work

Volunteering with a charity or nonprofit organization helps you readjust to a working environment. Charities have direct supervisors you must answer to and co-workers you must get along with. Nonprofit organizations need you to take your shift seriously and get there on time. As in any work environment, you also have tasks to complete that have deadlines. Completing these tasks on time is important, especially to those who are receiving the help you give. Relearning these important job skills prepares you to reenter the work force when you are ready.

Building New Relationships

Most of the relationships you had during your addiction were somehow related to the drug culture. Those who sold drugs, took drugs with you or helped you find new sources of drugs are no longer a part of your life. That can make the first days out of rehab feel lonely, even though you no longer want to associate with your old routines. Getting involved in an ongoing support group and attending regular meetings helps with this loneliness and gives you a safe place to continue developing your coping skills. Volunteering can also meet the need for healthy new relationships.

The people who volunteer alongside you each have a story of their own. Learning to do life together helps you understand the experiences of others and know that you are not the only one who struggles. Every person has a story. Volunteering lets you get to know people like yourself who want to give back because they have been given a second chance at life.

Develop New Skills

Developing new skills is an important part of a life of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. New skills make you more employable and teach you that it is never too late to learn. The experience you gain from volunteering with a nonprofit organization can be added to your resume, making you a more attractive employee. New skills and job experience can also result in higher pay.

Good for Your Health

According to a 2013 study by Carnegie Mellon University, adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours per year reduce their risk of hypertension by 40 percent[i]. Volunteering also provides a deep sense of happiness to those who help others and can greatly reduce the risk of depression[ii]. Depression increases the risk of addiction relapse, so any activity that can help sadness, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed or other emotions that can trigger the disorder is important. It may seem like you are simply helping others, but you’re helping yourself at the same time.

Human beings are wired for face-to-face interaction with other human beings. That means social interaction is good for your state-of-mind. And interacting with others for a common cause just makes you feel good. Volunteering lets you know that you are needed. For those who struggle with addiction, this can sometimes mean the difference between continued recovery and relapse. Knowing there is a group that needs you motivates you to make good choices each day in order to continue working for something you care about.

Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Helping others through volunteering at a charity or other nonprofit organization can significantly lower your risk of drug relapse. Helping others forces you to take your mind off of yourself and your addiction and think about more positive things.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You are not alone. Call us now.


[i] Carneige Mellon University. “Volunteering Reduces Risk of Hypertension in Older Adults, Carnegie Mellon Research Shows.” Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2013/june/june13_volunteeringhypertension.html

[ii] Everyday Health.”How Volunteering Can Lessen Depression and Extend Your Life.” Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/how-volunteering-can-lessen-depression-and-extend-your-life.aspx