When I was discharged from Cumberland Heights I knew one thing for certain…treatment may have been complete, but recovery was just beginning. Today, there are many ways I’m active in my recovery and one of the most rewarding is what I’m able to do for others. Service work is an integral part of what keeps me sober one day at a time. Each simple act keeps me out of my own head long enough to focus on another individual or group’s recovery. I’m not seeking recognition, only trying to make someone else’s journey in sobriety a little easier. And while focusing on someone else, something magical happens…people begin to recover together.
With this in mind, here are 10 ways to be of service to others in recovery:
1) Sponsorship – Becoming a sponsor is the ultimate way one person suffering from addiction can help another. A sponsor gives his or her time; meeting sponsees to help them work the steps, to ferret out the root causes of his or her addiction, and develop a deeper relationship with a Higher Power of their understanding.
2) Be a sober contact – Newly recovering people are always encouraged to get as many phone numbers as they can so they’ll have plenty of people to call when they’re triggered to use or drink. Being the person on the other end of the call can save a life.
3) Take meetings to detox units – I’ll never forget the first message of recovery, strength and hope I heard was in a detox unit at a local hospital. Providing this vital area of service work, you can inspire hope in someone about a program with the potential to change their life for the better.
4) Chair 12-Step meetings – A certain amount of responsibility comes along with steering the ship at a 12-Step meeting. The chair passes out the readings, and often, chooses the topic of discussion. This role serves every person attending.
5) Attend business meetings – Each home group has a meeting set aside to discuss financial details: bills for rent, items needed for purchase such as soft drinks; and the collections to pay for expenses. This is a good way to serve the home group.
6) Greet people – Making someone feel welcome in a 12-Step meeting is a wonderful way to give back. Shaking hands, taking an interest in a newcomer, offering a smile or a friendly hello can be the one thing someone needed to hear to come back to another meeting.
7) Clean up – Each month my home group assigns someone to clean up our meeting place. Wiping off tables, sweeping floors and cleaning up the facility to keep it nice for our meetings is one way to get out of ourselves and help others.
8) Offer transportation to meetings – In recovery finding our way to meetings is our responsibility. However, some provide rides as service work. I was blessed enough to have someone who helped me get to meetings when I couldn’t drive.
9) Participate in fundraising – A clubhouse where I got sober recently held a yard sale. Providing clothing, tagging items or volunteering time at an event like this are all ways to provide service work.
10) Host sober activities – A common complaint among someone new in recovery is that they don’t know how to have fun without substances. Hosting an event for sober people to have a bonfire, barbecue, movie night, canoe or camping trip; or just a gathering to walk together downtown is more helpful than you might realize.
Katrina Cornwell is a case manager at Cumberland Heights, a motivational speaker, blogger and three-time, first-place award winner in the annual Tennessee Press Association contest.
In her presentations, she speaks about her addiction to drugs and alcohol and how those habits led to a drunk driving accident which killed a man in October 2009.