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Service for Sobriety: Three Tools for Making it Stick

Brad Lamm, CIPvolunteer

The three tenets of the 12-step program are unity, service, and recovery; perhaps the most important of these is service.  At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we start clients on the journey to recovery by immediately engaging them in community service opportunities. There are many benefits to volunteerism that go beyond the feel-good burst one gets from dedicating their time to do good. My top three are: emotional regulation, professional exposure and a practical exploration of employment skills.

When offering up time and effort, clients are exposed to a setting where they must complete assignments, interact with customers and co-workers and take direction.  Most addicts are used to doing what they want when they want it. Switching to doing life on life’s terms can trigger the emotions that may lead to acting out. Volunteering offers an opportunity to take inventory of triggers and observe reactions in a way that leads to a fuller recovery experience.

The next benefit is the exposure to a wide range of people, some of whom may not have any exposure to addiction and recovery.  This affords clients the opportunity to see new behaviors, thoughts and emotional regulation demonstrated by new role models.  Seeing ‘normal behavior’ in action is a great way to gauge what a sober life can look like.

Additionally, the path to finding employment is made easier by developing credible job references, closing the unemployment gap, and building strong employment referrals. Forging new professional relationships is a big component to living in a sober world.

Learning time management and prioritizing one’s program while accommodating a job is a skill addicts must learn to return to work full-time. In that sense, the demands of volunteer work simulate those found in many jobs, affording a better sense of what it actually would be like to return to work.

Building confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth is probably the most enriching by-product of volunteering.  We learn the importance of interpersonal communication, gain a sense of purpose and can’t help but feel optimistic when time and energy is spent making our community a better place to live.

If you are looking for an opportunity to ramp up your sobriety, check out this website and start changing your life for the better today.

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