service in sober support groups

How Serving in a Support Group Helps You Stay Sober

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The New Year is a time of taking stock. Looking at your past year, and looking ahead to where you want to be. If you are living in recovery, that probably means a lot of gratitude and considering the richness of life free from drugs or alcohol.

As you look forward to the upcoming year and beyond, it’s a good time to get a refresher on acts of service.

Whether you’re new to sobriety or have been sober for years, you know that staying sober requires ongoing therapies, maintenance, and goals. Taking time to perform services for others can keep you on your sober path.

What Is Service in Sobriety?

Service in sobriety refers to the community service actions you take while you’re recovering from substance use disorders. When you’re sober, it’s easy to get back to your normal life, but you don’t want to completely stop going to aftercare programs or support groups. You want to keep that structure in your life, but you may not understand how, especially if you no longer feel like you’re struggling.

Service in sobriety can be performed in a variety of ways, but one of the most common is to work with your 12-step group to be a sponsor. If you’re not at the stage where you can take on a sponsee, then you may come to the meeting and offer to set up chairs, clean up after the meeting is over, or even pass out papers or greet newcomers. 

Baby Steps to Service in Sobriety

Over time, you may change the way you help out at meetings or in your community. For instance, if you start by helping set up at meetings, that makes sure you get to the meeting and attend regularly. However, as you start to require less motivation to go to the meeting and are more comfortable with your sobriety, you may want to do something else. Maybe you could decide to bring coffee or snacks to meetings once a week, or you could take on a sponsee who can call you for help when needed.

As you become more confident in your life and choices, working with others to help them get to the same point can be a great help to them and to yourself. It keeps you on track and helps them move forward with their sobriety in the long term.

When Is Service Important During Your Recovery?

When you first begin your recovery, you’re in a state where you are sober but perhaps a little unsteady. You want to participate in a group because it will help you be held accountable for your actions and activities. Aftercare is important when it comes to keeping you sober, so taking the time to go to meetings, network and meet others like yourself is a part of the process.

When you first begin going to meetings, you may not be familiar with the other people there, and that’s okay. What you can do is volunteer. Start by asking to be a greeter or to help set up or clean up after meetings. This gives you an activity that you’re required to do, making it less likely that you’ll skip a meeting.

The next step is to become more involved. When you feel more comfortable with the group, offer to talk to others or go out of your way to include new members in the meeting. You want to be an encouraging and supportive individual, which in turn boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Having a high sense of self-worth also helps you maintain your sobriety.

Recovery: The Next Step

When you get to the stage where you don’t feel your sobriety is going to waiver or you feel confident that you can help another person, you can take on a sponsee. This is a person who has just come out of a recovery program and needs a sponsor to take then through the 12 steps, help talk to them and encourage them on their road to sobriety. Some people who come to group meetings may still be drinking or may relapse; you will be there to encourage them to get back on track and to focus on the goal of a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Sponsors generally take on only one sponsee, but you may decide that isn’t enough. This could, over time, lead you to develop your own group meetings during different times or at different locations. You could travel to schools and talk about substance abuse, or you could encourage others to engage in healthier lifestyles. There is no end to the list of service ideas, and you are encouraged to involve yourself as much as possible in the lives of others as a positive influence.

Not Yet In a Place to Serve?

If you or your loved one has a substance use disorder looking to make a change in life, the first step is to reach out for help. At First Steps Recovery, our programs help individuals understand the importance of service in society, as well as many other life-preparation skills. This is essential in their movement back into society.

Are you or your loved one ready to take the first step to recovery? Call us today: 844-489-0836.

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