Demi Lovato, who lived in a sober house for more than a year, showed up to speak to a recovery group and her good friend, Selena Gomez came along in support. Apparently, this is not something she does often but, Demi spoke to the group for an hour and shared her personal survival story, something those of us in the program refer to as “experience, strength, and hope.” Currently a judge on “The X Factor,” Lovato has publicly acknowledged struggling with anorexia, bulimia and self-harm such as cutting. Demi went on to say she wanted to surround herself with positive influences, which is why she chose to live in the sober house for an extended period and why she values Selena as a friend.
12 Step Recovery: Giving Back
According to the 12 Steps, it is important for those in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction to give back. Often put, “to give back what was so freely given to us,” this refers to the aspects of fellowship and especially sponsorship within the program – completing the Steps and then taking others through the steps. In fact, the 12th and last Step is to “carry this message [of recovery] to alcoholics [and addicts], and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
It’s not enough to complete the steps with a sponsor; recovery doesn’t end there. It is widely believed that real recovery actually starts with giving back. It is often said that we are really both teacher and student at the same time. This means that even though those being sponsored feel as if they are receiving help, they are also helping their sponsors to stay clean and sober – the act of sponsoring and giving back in other ways, such as speaking at meetings and taking commitments such as H&I, is what bolsters our program of recovery and helps us to be successful at sobriety.
Speaking at a meeting or at a treatment center is the best natural high, in my opinion. I know for some it can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you’re more of the nervous type. Personally, I love it. I often begin by saying that of course I love to come and speak, I mean, I get to talk about myself for the better part of an hour to a captive audience. Now, I know that’s a more humorous approach and it’s partially true. But I also love speaking because it really makes me feel so damn good to be in service to others like me who are trying to get better. I want to show them that recovery is possible and that sobriety is actually pretty awesome.
Being In Service
There are other ways to be of service to fellow recovering alcoholics and addicts such as taking on commitments like H&I, where you chair a weekly meeting usually for 6 months, sometimes over the course of a year. H&I stands for Hospitals and Institutions and refers to hospitals, treatment centers, jails, and prisons – basically places that treat or house addicts and alcoholics and allow meetings to be brought in because the patients or prisoners, whatever the case, cannot leave to attend a meeting. I have good friends in the program who have said that they’re recovery really took off when they picked up an H&I commitment and they absolutely loved being in service in this way. So, get involved. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.