Once you’ve reached a stage of recovery where you believe that you’ve overcome some of the hardest obstacles that have been thrown your way during sobriety, you may feel that it’s time to give back to the community that rallied around you. With so many people struggling with addiction across the nation, more needs to be done to bolster support for those who are most in need of help and those who are at highest risk.
- At-risk youth outreach: There are programs in schools and community centers such as churches that seek people in recovery to volunteer and reach the youth. Typically these seminars are held in areas with high substance misuse statistics and criminality. Speaking about your experience to the young generations that are often exposed to substance use early in life and highly influenced by their social surroundings can make a world of difference.
- Homeless shelters. More than half of the people who find themselves living on the street or are displaced are also suffering from addiction. Though there are shelters available for them to find a clean bed, there are strict policies about bringing in and using substances within their facilities, causing many to opt-out. Some shelters provide programs where those who need help can speak with someone who can lead them to the right resources to set them up with treatment. Speaking as someone who also went through the process can significantly influence their eagerness to make a change for the better.
- Soup kitchens. Much like homeless shelters, soup kitchens are a way to reach people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from or who may not have a permanent home. Not every soup kitchen will have a program that is focused on treatment outreach, but helping feed those who are struggling is a way to give back to the community. People go there to find relief, so many programs don’t want anyone providing uninvited life advice, but there are some places that offer group support sessions for those in recovery that are open to visitors who wish to join.
- Mentoring or sponsorship. Deciding to become a mentor, or if you are a member of a 12-step program, deciding to become a sponsor, is a huge step in recovery. Only those who have done the hard work of recovery themselves or have positive experience and guidance to share should consider acting as a mentor. The various 12-step groups also have direction that can be provided related to when you can start sponsoring. Helping someone along the way or even, possibly becoming an interventionist or licensed counselor are all options when taking on this role.
Recovery is an inspiring time that can lead you to take charge and give back to your community. It will require you to feel secure in your own sobriety as well as having the strength to help others who need it. Using your own personal experiences as a platform and the things you learned going through the treatment and recovery process, you can inspire many to take back control of their lives and treat their substance use disorder.