Giving Back: Finding Healing in Helping Others

Giving Back: Finding Healing in Helping Others

Volunteering is “associated with lowered rates of depression, increased well-being

When people recover from addiction or other health issues, it is widely recommended that they volunteer to help others, because considerable evidence shows how beneficial it can be to do so. Indeed, Dr. Suzanne Richards from the University of Exeter Medical School wrote a paper that summarizes 40 different studies on the relationship between volunteering and health: published in BMC Public Health, the paper concludes that volunteering is “associated with lowered rates of depression, increased well-being, and a 22 percent reduction in the risk of fatalities”[1]. Volunteering to help others can be a simple, everyday act, but it can weaken mental health disorders, improve overall wellness and reduce the risk of death.

Overall, many health professionals believe that giving back to others improves health because it meets the following criteria:

  • Involves action – Volunteering involves some action, no matter how small it may be, which means that someone may have to leave her home or couch to help someone. Physical activity of any nature is going to benefit both physical and mental health.
  • Creates social interaction – People need support and social activity, so connecting with other people will boost positive hormones like oxytocin, which increases the desire to care for and connect with others, which boosts positive hormones and etc.
  • Improves self-esteem – People like to feel needed or valued, and, by helping others, people gain a sense of value, self-worth and fulfillment

You can help someone and benefit your own life by giving back to people who are going through the same problems as you.

How Helping Others Can Help Your Recovery

For anyone who has dealt with addiction, mental health disorders or both, a key component to recovery is both receiving and providing support. Most recovery groups argue that addicts will not be able to recover on their own, so they need help to do so. Furthermore, going through life alone leads many people to drug abuse in the first place, but it also frequently drives them into self-destructive tendencies that can develop physical and mental health issues as a result. In short, giving and receiving support helps you get and stay well in recovery.

Helping others can offer many health benefits, specifically to who are recovering from devastating issues. You can give back to the community that helped you by volunteering at centers that have nothing to do with addiction, or you can join recovery groups and programs by becoming a sponsor, creating a local recovery organization or talking about your own recovery with people who need inspiration. In short, for people who are recovering from addiction, giving back can reestablish important components of healthy relationships, such as trust, communication and intimacy. Many people in recovery have difficulty getting close to others, but, by getting involved in these groups, you can subconsciously tap into these relationship fundamentals with people who have similar problems. When you help people who have similar issues as yourself, you can create a strong bond while you also remind yourself that you have company in your own journey[2].

Additionally, if you help others through their recoveries, then you reinforce your recovery at the same time. By providing support, encouragement, motivation and accountability to someone else, you will remember the same points that you are discussing. By working through someone else’s challenges, you will bolster your own skills in recovery, which can show you how far you have come, how important it is to keep working or that you need help to shore up your own coping habits.

Finally, it is rewarding to help others during recovery, because it creates a positive identity in the community and world sans drugs. It feels great to be needed, accepted and a part of something, so, when recovering addicts spend their time and energy helping and connecting with others, they will feel involved and valued. Many recovering addicts express the joy and meaning they find in sharing experiences with other likeminded individuals, so, by talking in support groups and participating in recovery events, you can develop a sense of comradery and self-worth that are completely divorced from drugs. Individuals in recovery can organize events that allow people with similar experiences to dive back into everyday life with company. Together, these people can function in the real world while also preventing relapse and making each individual stronger[3].

How Do I Find Treatment Programs in My Community?

If you need help finding recovery services in your community, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our admissions coordinators will offer their knowledge, guidance and help to connect you with the right treatment options for you specific needs. Whether you are calling with questions and concerns or are ready to search for treatment programs today, our staff can help you. Many resources exist for people in recovery, so call now to learn more about the options that can help you and your loved ones.


[1] Konrath, Sara, PHD. (2013, August 22). How Volunteering Can Lessen Depression and Extend Your Life. Everyday Health. Retrieved from

[2] (2015, November 11). 6 Ways Helping Others Aids in Addiction Recovery. Retrieved from

[3] Donaldson, Amy. (2014, July 16). Finding Healing: Innovative Utah Program Turns Addicts into Athletes. Deseret News. Retrieved from