In the recovery world, you hear a lot about the importance of having people to support you. This is vital—and it’s equally crucial to give support.
Helping Others Helps You
A study of adolescents in addiction treatment found that those who helped others had a significantly reduced risk of relapse post-treatment. Another study found that 40% of people with alcohol use disorder who helped others with addiction stayed sober a year after graduating from detox. In comparison, 22% of those who didn’t help stayed sober in that same period.
Thinking about how helping others benefits yourself can seem to cancel out altruism. But the point is that mutual support in recovery is widely healing. To me it’s hopeful that we gain so much from helping others.
What are Some Ways to Help?
You can support people in your life actively struggling with addiction by pointing them to resources and education. You can’t make them get sober, but you can give them tools to use when they’re ready. Before I got sober and in early sobriety—and still now, coming up on six years—learning about recovery was so helpful.
In a similar vein, sharing your story can really make a difference to someone who is earlier in sobriety than you or not yet sober. Before I got sober, I’d thought about it for many years, but I had a lot of false negative conceptions about recovery. I also thought it was impossible. Hearing stories from people who have not only done it, but are living a great sober life, show others what’s achievable.
There are tons of recovery groups online. Most are about providing support for people in different stages of recovery. Sharing how you stayed sober, or how you cope with stress without drugs or alcohol, can give a blueprint for someone else.
Many people in recovery find another sober person (or other sober people) to check in on each other and cheer on one another’s sobriety. If you have a friend like that, you might put it on your calendar to call or text them once a week, or whatever frequency works for that relationship. We’ve shared some tips for supporting a friend through a relapse during social distancing, but many apply even when you’re vaxxed and can see more people.
Helping others gives us something outside ourselves to focus on when we are struggling. Addiction often makes life smaller and causes a sense of dislocation; giving to others is a great way to feel connected to the world again after active addiction.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. In treatment, you’ll build a strong support system. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.