Newcomer tip #9: Doing Service Work
This is a blog series that will be focusing on one tip a day for newcomers. These tips are not a replacement for going to meetings and working the 12 steps. They are to be used in addition to meetings and steps. The first few months of sobriety are hard. These are some ways to help get you through it.
Yesterday’s blog was about Getting a Sponsor. This is nonnegotiable if you want to stay sober. Now let’s talk about being of service.
What’s the best way to get out of your own head, stop thinking about yourself and your problems? Is it therapy? Nope. Is it attending meetings? Nope. What is it you ask? Service work. Volunteering. Helping others. Call it what you want but it’s all about being self-LESS instead of self-ABSORBED.
The Benefits of Service Work
- Getting Out of Your Head
Well, I mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating. Your head is not your friend right now. Stay out of it! Typically we don’t stop drinking and using until the pain and/or consequences are extraordinarily bad. I mean cataclysmically bad! Why would we? If alcohol and drugs still did for us now what it did in the beginning, why would we stop? But it doesn’t.
When we get sober we are faced with the destruction of our life. It consumes us. “How am I going to pay my phone bill?” or “Am I ever going to win the trust of my family back?” The list is endless.
If you do something for someone else, volunteer, guess who you aren’t thinking about? You!
- Meet New People
Volunteers rarely work alone. Meetings, events, retreats, workshops, community activities all take many hands to make them happen. You will be working with a group of people, and remember Newcomer Tip #6: Getting Connected? Not isolating and getting connected with other people is vital to our recovery.
- It Feels Good
This might sound like a selfish reason but if it gets you out there doing some good in the recovery community, churches, nonprofits or the regular community, so be it. The bottom line is it does feel good. Try it on for size and let me know in the comments section if I was wrong.
Keep it Simple
They are all different types of service opportunities. Take on an easy one to begin with. I wouldn’t recommend planning a brunch fundraiser for your church when you are newly sober. Do something simple like volunteer to make coffee or greet people at your 12 step meeting, Pass out flyers or be a set-up/clean-up person at a recovery event. You could pick up trash at your local parks, bring snacks for coffee hour after church (unless you belong to a mega church. Then that might be a big task).
How Do a You Find Opportunities?
There are endless volunteer opportunities. Here are a few to get you started:
- At your 12 step meetings, ask the chair person when the group conscience meeting is. At that meeting they will announce service positions that need to be filled. Attend it. Then volunteer.
- A2WG has monthly events, workshops, retreats, fundraisers ect. There are always opportunities to help out. There are a list of “jobs” on our Get Involved page. I suggest being a helper, baker/snack person or passing out flyers. Those are low stress positions.
- If you want to do something in your community go on Volunteer Match.
- If you belong to a church or plan on belonging, just ask someone. They’ll direct you to the right person.
- A lot of people in the Washtenaw County recovery community volunteer at the local detox, Dawn Farms SPERA. They may have some sobriety time stipulations. Just ask.
- Do you have a car? Pick people up and bring them to meetings. You are going anyway so fill up your car. You won’t be able to pick up anyone that’s in treatment because there is a six month sobriety rule but there are plenty of people not in treatment that don’t have cars that could use a ride to a meeting.
What experiences do you have with doing service work? What were the benefits? Share your experiences. Ask a question. Don’t be afraid to comment below. This blog is a place where you can speak freely.
Our last blog in this series will be addressing an essential state of mind for happy recovery…. gratitude.
Peace, Love & Sobriety,