Reasons to Volunteer During Recovery
Giving Back with Purpose
Being an addict in recovery comes with a lot of baggage, including plenty of guilt and shame. You likely worked on getting past those feelings while in rehab, but they tend to linger. During your addictive days you were selfish and self-absorbed. Now is your time to give back, help others, and be a little selfless. Volunteer work can be a great way to mitigate those negative feelings of shame and guilt.
By volunteering to help others in need you can help repay your debt to society. Even if you did not cause major problems while an addict, you certainly were not contributing in a positive way. By volunteering you not only give back, you also help yourself to start to feel self-worth again. You will matter to people who need you, and that can be a powerful agent for making more positive changes in your life. When you feel better about your purpose you will also be less tempted to relapse.
Getting Ready for Work
Going back to work as a recovering addict can be a challenge, but volunteer opportunities make for a good transition. If you have to explain to a prospective employer that you have been out of the work force because of addiction treatment, you may find that getting hired isn’t easy. But, if you can add volunteer work to your resume you may be able to change minds about who you are and how far you have come since being an addict. Volunteer positions can also help you to develop skills that will prepare you to work again.
Building a Positive Social Network
One of the most important things you can do in recovery is to establish positive relationships with people who will support your recovery. Leave old friends and connections behind and build a new social network. Hopefully you have family and some sober friends who will be there for you, but expanding that network to include new friends and acquaintances is also important. By volunteering you will meet new, like-minded people who can be your friends and who may also lead you to new opportunities.
Should I Volunteer to Work with Addicts?
Many addicts in recovery are eager to give back by helping other addicts. It is a noble sentiment to want to help others like you, but there are potential pitfalls. For some recovering addicts it is essential to get away from the world of drugs and alcohol entirely, at least for a period of time. If you feel unsteady in your recovery, you might want to step back for a while and work in another area.
If you feel strong, however, working with addicts can be a great experience. You can give them the benefit of your personal knowledge about overcoming addiction. In general, working in a volunteer capacity is an amazing way to improve your life and simultaneously help others. Follow your passions and volunteer in a position that makes you feel good. When you feel good about what you are doing, you will be able to offer your best self.