When you first get clean and sober, a lot of people are helping you on a daily basis. Treatment centers, people at 12-step meetings, family and others all probably want to see you succeed and start a new way of life. Sure, there are some bumps in the road along the way. But after all you’ve been through, the journey of recovery is worth it. You may wonder when you can start giving back. After all, you were given the gift of recovery. How can you, too, give back to others?
Early in recovery, you need to focus on yourself and learning to live life without the use of substances. While you may want to help others who are new, just like you, the truth is that you’re probably not ready to do that yet. You’re still healing your own life, building relationships and working to earn the trust of others. At this time, it’s best you do small things as you learn to give back. When giving back, make sure you don’t limit yourself to 12-step meetings. Putting gratitude into motion means becoming a productive member of your community.
If you want to give back, try something simple, such as:
- Help put out and put away the chairs at meetings.
- Make coffee at meetings.
- Offer to give away keytags or coins for recovery anniversaries.
- Help an elderly neighbor by sweeping or shoveling their porch.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
- Visit care homes at the holidays.
- Offer family members rides or do grocery errands for them.
- Become active in your religious community.
Giving back to the community, including your recovery meetings, will help you have a sense of purpose and belonging. People will also learn who you are and recognize you as a person who values them.
Commit to Giving Back
When you make commitments to others, you help them as well as yourself. Just remember that your first commitment is always to your sobriety. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Start small and learn to trust yourself again.
The twelfth step in Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery program is meant for those in savanced recovery. People who have worked all of their steps with their sponsor prepare to help others who are brand new to the programs. It’s recommended that you focus on yourself, and not take on too much responsibility in your first year in recovery. When you make it to the twefth step, you can start to help newcomers. Take life a day at a time and enjoy the journey.