When you’re struggling with addiction, it’s not unusual to turn completely inward and lose your sense of connection to the community you live in. Recovery offers a chance to make a fresh start, and it’s an opportunity to fill your life with purpose and meaning. For many people in addiction recovery, community service is an integral part of their new sober life.
In this article, we’ll look at the many ways community service can strengthen your recovery and help you find fulfillment.
Community Service Benefits Your Well-Being
Anyone who’s been involved in community service knows that helping others and giving back feels good; however, research has shown that volunteering has a number of actual health benefits. One study surveyed over 3,000 adults who performed regular volunteer work.1 The respondents made it clear that their community service had a real impact on their physical and mental health:
- 94 percent experienced improved moods after volunteering
- 76 percent reported they felt healthier when involved with regular volunteer work
- 74 percent reported that volunteer work helped reduce their stress levels
If you’re in addiction recovery, it’s important to have a good set of relapse-prevention strategies in place. Community service can boost your mood and keep your stress levels in check, and these mental health benefits can make a big difference when you’re navigating the challenges of recovery. When you’re able to maintain a calmer, more balanced emotional state, it’s easier to resist cravings and deal with triggers in your life.
Building a Community and Finding Purpose
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration names four essential components of a life in addiction recovery:2
If you’ve been struggling to develop a sense of community and purpose in your new sober life, volunteering can be an excellent way to satisfy those needs. Getting involved with community service allows you to build a new network of healthy relationships and perform meaningful work that fills you with purpose and meaning. It’s a great way to do something positive for yourself while helping others at the same time.
If you haven’t volunteered in the past, you may not know how to get started with community services. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to find an opportunity to give back. You’re likely to find plenty of non-profit organizations that welcome volunteers—the key to success is to choose a cause that aligns with your own interests and passions. Some possible volunteer opportunities include animal shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens and hospitals. Many museums rely on volunteers to assist with certain types of work, and libraries often have a need for volunteers as well.
If you’re getting used to a newly sober life, it can be challenging to find purpose and meaning in recovery. Community service can be an important part of your life that strengthens your recovery efforts. You don’t have to make a big time commitment in order to make a difference—every little bit helps. Start by donating a few hours each month to an organization you care about, and you’ll see how good it feels to give back.