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If you have ever lived with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, you may want nothing more than to keep the past in the past and avoid talking about it on any level. If discussing your history with substances is a potential trigger for relapse, then by all means, focus instead on the positive aspects of the present. If you are feeling strong and stable in your recovery, you could have a powerful impact on others by talking about what you have been through in addiction, how you connected with treatment, and your experience thus far in recovery. In addition to reaching people in active addiction who may not realize that treatment is a beacon of hope for them, you also benefit by:
If people you love lost their lives to addiction, you can channel your grief into something positive and effective by sharing their stories and yours. The loved ones of people in active addiction are just as deeply harmed by addiction as the person who drinks or gets high. The constant fear, anger, depression, and grief can be devastating to the ability to function in day-to-day life. Talking about your struggle can not only help you to process those feelings but also give you a positive outlet that will help other families to avoid the crisis that struck your home.
No matter how you went from active addiction to sobriety, your experience is powerful and can help someone else to find a path to balance in recovery. Working with a group or individual in recovery as a peer mentor or peer counselor, recovery coach, recovery advocate, etc. can provide a personal connection during someone’s recovery that can make a difference in avoiding relapse. Additionally, being a peer mentor or counselor can be empowering to your own recovery as well, keeping you connected and reminding you just how far you’ve come.
There are thousands of nonprofit and government agencies in need of support to better serve the addiction and recovery community. Each one will have volunteer opportunities and ways you can give back, such as donating coats and hats to homeless people living in addiction, providing job skills training in your area of expertise to interested individuals, offering initial counseling and referral services, speaking at local schools or alumni recovery groups, and more. If you don’t see something that interests you in your area, consider your unique skillset and how you can best be of service. Propose your idea to a local nonprofit or agency, or start your own initiative.
How will you make a difference in the coming year in terms of community understanding of drug and alcohol use and dependence? What can you do to encourage neighbors and loved ones who are struggling with addiction to reach out for help? Leave a comment and share your plan.