Service work is one of the fundamental keys to achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety. One of the most famous sayings in the rooms of recovery goes: “we can only keep what we have by giving it away”.
This paradox of recovery is what keeps the fellowship going generation after generation, and why service work is so important. Service work is an excellent way to remain accountable to not only the program, but to our own sobriety.
Many newcomers to the program, however, often times feel they do not have enough time or experience to start doing service work. In reality, this is simply not true! There are plenty of opportunities to do service work in early recovery, and it is highly encouraged for newcomers to do so.
Here we break down just some of the service work opportunities newcomers should consider.
1) Coffee Commitments
While it only requires showing up a little bit early and making coffee, it is an important commitment to have, as the meeting will depend on you being there! Coffee commitments are also an excellent way to stay accountable to sobriety and your program.
2) Alumni group
Many treatment centers will have alumni groups for those who graduated from their treatment facilities.
These groups will usually have plenty of service work opportunities for those in early sobriety- even if it is just showing the current residents in the rehab that the program does work by showing up.
3) Showing up early to meetings
Sometimes simply showing up early to the meeting will provide plenty of opportunity for service work. This can include setting up, putting up chairs, or even just greeting people as they arrive. There are always service work opportunities to be found before the meetings start.
4) Chairing commitments
Many meetings rely on people to volunteer chairing the meeting, usually as a one-month commitment.
While these commitments usually require a certain amount of sober time, some meetings it may only be three to six months of continuous sobriety required.
5) Welcoming the newcomer
With the exception of our first meeting, there often times will always be someone attending who has less time and/or experience than we do. Therefore, an excellent way to do service work is to welcome the newcomers and make them feel at home. Sometimes something as simple as a handshake and an exchange of pleasantries can mean the world to someone who is new and struggling.
6) Volunteering at recovery conventions
Recovery conventions are large, usually multi-day celebrations of recovery that include many different activities. These conventions always run on the work of volunteers and thus provide an excellent opportunity for service work, no matter how much sober time you have.
7) Volunteering outside of recovery
The changes we make to ourselves does not only apply to the fellowship! Rather, we hope to carry our new ideas and ideals into all aspects of our lives. So service work can and should also be done outside of the fellowship. This can include volunteering at animal shelters, hospitals, food kitchens, or anything we can think of!
8) More advanced commitments
Once you are ready, there are more advanced service commitments that can be had. These can include prison commitments, serving as an intergroup rep, and many other opportunities.
These can be found by asking more experienced group members, or by listening to the announcements in the beginning of most meetings.
9) Ultimately carrying the message forward to another newcomer
Before we know it, we will have achieved long-term sobriety. At this point, we can begin to pass the message on to other newcomers, just as was done for us when we joined the fellowship. There is, however, absolutely no sobriety time requirement to start helping newcomers. The reality is we can always start helping other newcomers, even if it is just welcoming them and asking them how they are doing.
10) Be sure to stay for the “meeting after the meeting”
It is important to try and hang out after a meeting ends rather than simply heading home, as there usually will be plenty of service opportunities. This is known affectionately as the “meeting after the meeting.” Service opportunities can include breaking down chairs, cleaning up, gathering books, and talking with other members.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.