Serve Like Addicts
Service can be hard. It requires someone to go out of their way and put aside their own comfort and needs for someone else. Service means sacrifice. Sacrificing time, resources, or personal gratification. Despite this, service doesn’t only help the receiver but also the giver. Serving can boost self-confidence, provide purpose, and diminish feelings of depression.
The 12-step program is a holistic approach to addiction recovery. This program connects the mind, body, and soul. The last step of the 12-step program is service. Addicts in recovery often implement this step by sponsoring, teaching, and supporting those who are moving through the same process they have just been through. This provides accountability and support for the sponsee as well as purpose for the sponsor. This step comes after the individual has created awareness and acceptance through the previous 11 steps. This step– and the whole program–is an ongoing lifestyle.
I was not familiar with the 12-step program until I started my internship at a residential treatment center for alcohol and drug addictions. Since then, I have been intrigued by the idea of service being used on the path to recovery. One interesting application of the 12th step is demonstrated in this facility. The staff there share similar backgrounds with the clients and have been through the 12-steps themselves. They are able to motivate and connect with the clients. This relatability is helpful for the clients to feel less alone in their struggles. It aids their recovery.
On a more societal level, a person could find many “sober fun” groups or AA/NA meetings with one quick search on the internet. This is the recovery community coming together to uplift and support one another. The members have similar goals and experiences, and these activities and meetings help them maintain their sobriety. Many people outside the community don’t realize how valuable and widespread this semi-hidden association can be. Initially, I am sure most would not associate addicts with service.
There are many stigmas associated with this population. Such biases drive people to ostracize or make naive assumptions. This culture-based recovery community deserves awareness and sensitivity from those who do not have experience within it. Outsiders need to acknowledge and accept this community in a considerate and appropropriate way. I would venture to say that most have not yet gotten to this point.
Service in the recovering addict community does not just have to come from trained professionals or other recovering addicts. Most people have something to offer. Maybe you can offer a smile, a listening ear, a supportive statement, or even just a non judgemental face in a crowd of critics.
We can use our shared experiences as a way to serve and uplift one another to create a more cohesive and kind world. It doesn’t just help them, it helps you. We need each other. And we need to be there for each other. So let’s take a page from The Big Book and serve.