Helping Others is Crucial To Recovery
Anyone who has ever participated in a 12-step program knows that helping others is crucial to recovery. The principle is reflected in the stated purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is to help individuals “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.” This is the founding principle of AA, and probably the most important principle of the program.
Helping Others is Crucial To Recovery: Scientific Research
However, this long held belief that helping others is crucial to recovery has, in recent years, become the subject of study. Researchers want to know whether helping others really works. In fact, a recent study on the disease of addiction has scientifically proven that drug addicts and alcoholics who apply the “helper therapy principle” have a better chance of staying clean and sober. Nearly 40% of alcoholics who help others stayed sober for at least a year compared to 22% who didn’t. Also, 94% of alcoholics that helped anyone even once during a 15 month period reported a lower level of depression.
Another study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University in 2010, found that adults who became involved in Alcoholics Anonymous-related service-type work were more likely to stay sober ten years following treatment and have increased interest in others.
This year, a similar study involving 200 juvenile offenders, show that youths in Alcoholics Anonymous respond the same way as their older counterparts. The study, which was recently published in The American Journal on Addictions, showed that youth who became active in AA-related helping during treatment were less likely to test positive for alcohol and drugs during treatment and had greater psychosocial improvement. For youth, it seems that helping others is crucial to recovery as well. AA-related helping includes acts of good citizenship, formal service positions, public outreach, and sharing personal experiences to a fellow addict.
Helping Others is Crucial To Recovery: How you can get involved
The best place to begin helping others is within the fellowship of AA or NA. Even the newly sober can participate in service work such as greeting, making coffee, or cleaning up. Find a home group and attend the business meeting to find out what you can do to help.
I often hear people who are new to the rooms lament the fact that they have nothing to offer anyone else, no way to help. This is not true! Even outside the rooms of AA, you can start helping people. Ask yourself how you can be helpful to your friends, families, and your roommates. Let a stranger cut ahead of you in a long grocery line, or carry a bag for someone you see struggling to get up the steps. There are a million ways to help. Even someone who has thirty days sober can help the person who has one.
The great thing about helping others is that we end up helping ourselves far more than we help them. Helping others is crucial to recovery and also to living in line with spiritual principles.
If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.