Within the rooms of 12-step programs it is important for newcomers to get involved; Volunteer to make coffee. Setup and handout literature. Become the greeter. All of these commitments play an important role within the meeting, and an important role within the person doing them. These commitments provide a much needed purpose. A purpose which addicts have lacked throughout their addiction.
I’m a big advocate for addicts in early recovery working and attending school. Becoming involved in their own process stimulates change and growth towards their own happiness. Becoming a member of a 12-Step program, finding work, and enrolling in school are a few ways to create a new meaning to life. Whether it is a job that just earns a little money, or one class that has always been of interest, it is serving a purpose far greater than one may think. Addicts often come to treatment lacking direction, or an idea of where to begin and what to do. These actions give meaning to our lives. Having meaning gives us the motivation that drives us towards happiness, and a rewarding and satisfying life.
Boredom is often a trigger associated with a relapse. Work, School, and Meetings help the recovering addict become involved. These activities occupy idle time; provide interaction with other people; and give direction for an individual who was once adrift. An addict’s own worst enemy can be his or her own brain. Participating in such positive activities removes the addict from themselves. Distracts them from their negative thoughts – thoughts that build momentum during idle time, when feeling bored, and when alone. Occupying time decreases boredom, places the person in social environments, and focuses their attention on something other than their own thoughts.
Your sense of purpose will continue to change as you grow; as you learn new things; as you meet new people; and as you experience your life. So, attend that meeting. Take that job. Register for that class. Get involved! Life will feel less empty and gradually become more-and-more meaningful. The darkness will begin to fade and the light shines a little brighter. As the addict beings to participate in their own recovery process, they begin to build self-esteem, begin to feel better about themselves, and begin to develop a new meaning to their life. Your life can be anything you want it to be. Why sell yourself short?
Michael Schaub, Primary Counselor
Victory Bay Recovery Center