Service Work and Adolescent Addiction Recovery: Why It’s Important

Volunteering during adolescent addiction recoveryAdolescence is a period of growth and learning. Typically described as the time between 13-and-19-years old, adolescence is one of the most crucial periods of development. As the University of Utah suggests, adolescence is when reasoning and decision-making starts forming. Unfortunately, it is also during this time that adolescents are likely to try substances, because they’re brain is not fully developed yet with the ability to weigh out consequences and make more rational decisions. For parents and family members with a teen in addiction recovery, it’s often challenging to identify what would work best for them in terms of recovery. Structure is clearly important and a formal treatment program that speaks to adolescent needs is very much needed, along with spiritual guidance to help teens find their place in the world. What else can help?

Service work (such as volunteering) can be incredibly fruitful for young people. A 2016 study published in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly sought to examine some of the “spiritual values” that teens obtain by engaging in service work during recovery; they assessed 195 adolescents in a residential treatment center for substance dependency and compared acts of service and strengthened spirituality against factors like criminal involvement, sobriety and character development. They discovered that volunteering actually reduced recidivism, reduced relapse and enhanced character development for teens in recovery. What is it about volunteering that is helping youth to such an extent?

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADDD) lists several benefits gained from service work for adolescents, such as:

  • Feeling needed
  • Learning new skills
  • Making a difference in someone’s life
  • Increasing one’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Contributing to their own community
  • Feeling part of something larger than themselves
  • And more

During this stage, teens may not fully grasp the concept of their identity, how they affect others and what meaning they bring to life. Service work – along with the building of spirituality – can greatly help teens bridge more of these gaps together.

If you’re ready to start your journey to recovery today, speak with someone from Cumberland Heights.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.