The Benefits of Community Service for Long-term Recovery

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Have you struggled with feelings of isolation during recovery? Are you hoping to re-enter society after a long journey to sobriety? Do you want to re-connect with others and even to give back to the community? Everyone needs a strong local community to thrive, and recovering individuals especially need to be surrounded by support. Some say that the opposite of addiction is not just sobriety, but building healthy connections. This certainly applies to recovering individuals’ post-treatment experience. 

For recovering individuals, becoming involved in neighborhood and community services can be conducive to emotional and social well-being. First, community services provide one with opportunities to practice altruism—the act of selflessly serving others. It is a big step for a person who used to spend excessive amounts of time and money fulfilling his or her own needs through drugs and alcohol to consider the needs of others. Secondly, engaging in community services can grant one a deep sense of gratification. Lastly, social integration is a mark of long-term recovery. Getting involved in neighborhood or community events helps boost confidence and self-esteem. One can feel seen when contributing to community affairs. It is a positive journey of self-discovery and new friendships. 

The Importance of Community in Recovery

Even during your treatment, being part of a recovery community is important. Because the main social effect of substance use is often withdrawal and isolation, recovery ought to center around restoring one’s presence and belonging in a community, whether that be a local community, a family, or a friend group. Recovery helps one open up, share feelings, trust others, and ask for help. Recovering individuals benefit from peers and health professionals who walk alongside them. 

Many treatment centers offer programs to help build a strong support system, such as a 12-step group or sober living home for people recovering from substance use disorder. This built-in social network can help lower relapse rates and coach recovering individuals to re-emerge as functioning human beings in a group setting. You might get relationship skills coaching to relearn how to set healthy boundaries in life and be taught strategies to balance body and mind. For long-term recovery, you are encouraged to keep in touch with a recovery community. They will be a structure of accountability and motivation for you going forward.

The Benefits of Community Service

By the time you finish a treatment program with more stable sobriety, it is time to explore the world beyond just your recovery community. Now that you have a strong support system in place including peers, therapists, family, and friends who have supported you all along, maybe you feel it is time to expand your social circles a bit further. It’s time to be a giver, not just a receiver. Engaging in community service is an excellent way to give back. 

After intensive treatment, you can use your free time to nurture new habits and volunteering is a great one. Volunteering for community service can keep you busy, be rewarding, and promote wholeness and recovery. Rebuilding your social life after recovery is no small feat, and you still need to use wisdom to pace yourself when planning things and committing to service. To avoid over-committing and its related stress, take volunteering one step at a time.

Ways to Get Involved in Community Service

Your sober support network will remain an anchoring community for you. Even within this group, you can become a giver. Maybe it is time to step up and sponsor a new member at your 12-step group. Maybe you can volunteer at a new hobby club or art group for recovering individuals. Let your interests and skillsets guide you into new service roles. 

You could explore volunteer services in your area, like a soup kitchen, a food pantry, or a homeless shelter. Simple tasks such as sorting through donations, handing out food, and gathering people are some low-stress ways for you to be of service. Although these days many non-profits involve volunteers working and mobilizing online, face-to-face interactions are still more beneficial for recovering individuals. 

There are many outdoor volunteer opportunities, such as at national parks, botanic gardens, or campsites. Spending time in nature and helping others can doubly boost your mental health. If you have a thing for animals, you can volunteer your time at a local animal shelter. While this is all good for socialization, there is the double benefit of engaging in some manual labor that can help those in recovery by releasing stress hormones. Focusing on a simple task is also mentally therapeutic and can help you sleep better. 

Are you actively involved in a recovery group? Have you thought about giving back to your local community by volunteering? Altruistic community service is an excellent way to achieve long-term mental health and overall wellbeing. Before you begin that, build a strong support system with your recovery community. You do not need to look far for such a community. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists know how to help you build a strong support network. We have inpatient and outpatient programs that address a range of mental health issues that can be challenging during all phases of your recovery. Our facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and custom treatment plans. You can count on us to guide you through post-treatment socialization. Call us at (866) 906-3203. We are eager to see you recover and get involved in your local community.