When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, she is struggling with a disease that makes her very selfish. She lives only to feed her need, and others are often shoved aside. Addicts commit crimes to get drugs. They neglect family. Some are even abusive to those they love. At the very least, addicts do little to contribute to society or their communities. For these reasons and others, many addicts in recovery participate in volunteer work. Giving back is a way of making up for wrongdoings but also for creating a new and more meaningful life without substance abuse. If you are a recovering addict, find inspiration in the stories of others giving back. Women in Recovery Recognized for Giving Back In Denver recently, four women received honors as part of an addiction recovery program for their work in giving back to the community and for maintaining sobriety for four years or longer. The women were honored for their accomplishments, for raising their children, for having established careers that make a difference and for volunteer work. One woman works as the director for a homeless transitional community, helping people who live on the streets. Another owns a construction company that employs women and serves on the board of a residential facility for female addicts. The fourth woman honored is employed at an addiction recovery facility. How these women have been able to turn their lives around while helping others serves as inspiration for everyone struggling with addiction. Sharing Your Story Another important way in which addicts in recovery can give back is to share their stories of struggle and triumph. By opening up about addiction and its impacts, recovering addicts are doing a great service. They are helping to spread awareness and to educate the public about addiction. They are also reducing the stigma associated with addiction by being brave enough to admit to having struggled with the disease. In Hawkins County, Tenn., graduates of a local Recovery Court are nonviolent offenders who chose treatment over jail time. The participants bravely tell their stories to the community in order to spread awareness and to give hope and inspiration to others who might be battling the disease of addiction. They talk about getting into substance abuse, spiraling out of control and getting help. Volunteering in the Community Not all addicts in recovery who want to give back do so by helping other addicts. Volunteering in other ways is a great way to make positive changes in the community. For example, the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Davenport, Iowa, helps addicts get into recovery and then puts them to work on a variety of projects. Some work in the Salvation Army stores, while others go out into the community to do whatever work needs doing. Recently, after big storms swept through the Quad Cities area, a lot of cleanup was needed. The recovering addicts helped with the cleanup process and assisted residents who needed extra help. Giving back is an important part of recovery for many former addicts. Once you get clean, you might start to feel guilt and shame over what you have done in the past\u2014how destructive you were. Volunteering and living a constructive life is the best way to reconcile those feelings and to make a difference. Giving back also has the added benefit of strengthening sobriety. When you have meaningful work in your life, you have fewer reasons to relapse and more to lose. If you are in recovery, consider volunteer work to help your community and yourself.