< 5 Ways Volunteering Helps You Maintain a Life of Sobriety
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5 Ways Volunteering Helps You Maintain a Life of SobrietyWhile enrolled in a sober living program, you’ll be required to spend some of your time volunteering. This isn’t just something we do here at Eudaimonia to give back to the community (although giving back is always a great reason to volunteer). Instead, we view it as another way to help you maintain your sobriety and continue a life of recovery.

In addition to those good feelings you get from helping someone else, you might be wondering what other benefits volunteering has for those enrolled in a transitional living program.

First and foremost, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have always emphasized the importance of helping other alcoholics and drug-addicted individuals. For example, step 12 of the 12-step program clearly encourages members to help other alcoholics in their recovery journey with the following statement, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Additionally, the Big Book also states that each man and woman in recovery should practice “tolerance, patience, and good will toward all men” while placing the welfare of others ahead of his or her own.1,2

Scientific research even shows that individuals in recovery who help other alcoholics will experience positive physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. One scientific study backs this concept with evidence that shows the mental health benefits for individuals providing aid may as much as double when they are helping someone struggling with the same chronic disease they have faced personally.3

People in recovery who help others are also more likely to maintain their own sobriety for longer periods of time. The first longitudinal investigation in Project MATCH (the largest and most expensive alcoholism treatment trial ever conducted), found that alcoholics who helped others during treatment were twice as likely to have maintained sobriety 12 months after treatment, compared to non helpers.3

5 Ways Helping Others Helps You

Ongoing social and cognitive research continues to show evidence that helping others provides therapeutic benefits to the helper, not just the person receiving the aid.3 Specifically, here are six ways volunteering can improve your life in recovery and help you maintain your sobriety.

  • Volunteering improves mood.

Many studies have found that volunteering increases happiness. In fact, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications found that when compared with people who never volunteered, the likelihood of a person being “very happy” increased 7 percent for individuals who volunteer every month and 12 percent for individuals who volunteer every two to four weeks.4,5

  • Volunteering decreases depression and anxiety.

An analysis of the Americans’ Changing Lives survey found significant positive relationships between volunteering and lower levels of depression.6 This suggests that volunteer activities may serve to be a great medicine for depression and anxiety, especially when experienced by individuals in early recovery.

  • Volunteering increases self-esteem.

After drug and alcohol rehab, individuals still most likely have a lot of work to do in recovering their sense of self, building upon their self-worth, and increasing their self-esteem. While many aspects of a sober living program will aid in that process, volunteering will too! Contributing to something bigger than yourself gives you a sense of purpose and empowers you to continue accomplishing even more. Many individuals also develop a sense of identity and pride in being a volunteer.

  • Volunteering improves quality of life.

While too much of anything may decrease the quality of life (even volunteering), a majority of individuals report experiencing improved well-being and increased satisfaction in life as a result of their volunteer work.7

  • Volunteering connects you to others.

In recovery, it’s not always easy to find friends and mentors who will be supportive of your sobriety goals, understand what you’re going through, and be there to listen when you need it most. Volunteering with others in your sober living house provides an opportunity to build relationships with those people through spending time together and serving others.

Volunteering While Enrolled in a Eudaimonia Sober Living Program

Whether you’re already enrolled in a Eudaimonia transitional housing program or you’re considering it, it’s important to note that volunteering is a vital aspect of our sober living process. Our Support Employment Volunteering Program is designed to help you obtain employment, plan for education (if you chose to), and help you get involved as a community volunteer.

While a resident of our sober living homes, you’ll experience firsthand the benefits of volunteering. You’ll also have the opportunity to help other residents stay accountable to their sobriety goals as you all learn how to live independent, sober lives together.

If you have questions about volunteering as a Eudaimonia resident and what it entails, please call us to speak to a member of our admissions team. We are happy to answer any questions you have.

 

References:

  1. https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt5.pdf
  2. https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt7.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2727692/
  4. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/special-health-reports/simple-changes-big-rewards-a-practical-easy-guide-for-healthy-happy-living
  6. https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf
  7. https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/23/volunteering-can-improve-mental-health-help-you-live-longer/58787.html
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