When you’re dealing with addiction, you’re in no shape to be giving to others. You’re forced to receive, to accept help from others to help you shed your destructive habits and end your substance abuse. But after you’re out of rehab and in recovery, it’s time to start thinking about how you can pay back the time and effort invested in you by paying it forward to others.

By giving back, you can leave an impact on others by making a difference in the recovery community.

Mental health experts argue that addiction is, in part, a disease of selfishness in how it forces the addict to put aside any consideration for others in a single-minded focus on meeting the constant need for more substance abuse. The recovering addict can therefore push past that old mindset through service work, which is all about considering the needs of others and giving back to a larger community.

Moreover, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends service work to help meet what it deems the four dimensions of recovery — health, home, purpose and community. Giving back through service work addresses almost all of those, giving purpose and contributing to a greater community while also emphasizing your own health and that of others.

But how should you give back? What can you do that others can’t or don’t already do?

Well, there is always a need for volunteers in a host of different fields. You can help at support group meetings, even if it’s as simple as showing up early to help set up, staying late to clean up or just bringing snacks for the group. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter.

Giving Back: Making a Difference in the Recovery Community

And you don’t have to take the “giving back” part of the service impulse literally. Your service doesn’t have to be in the same area of addiction treatment and recovery you yourself went through. You can volunteer at a host of other activities and service organizations — animal shelters, schools, libraries and more. It’s about being active, being involved in the community and about making a difference for someone who is not yourself.

You may have to take it slow at first. You might not be up for devoting long hours to some cause early in recovery. You may have trouble revisiting certain issues that affected you, so some recovery oriented causes may not be right for you. But you’re sure to find something you can do that helps others.

Good Landing Recovery, as a Christian based rehab facility, can help you find the right opportunities for you to get started. And local churches are always in need of volunteers for a host of events and causes and could use your help.

By giving back, you can make a difference in the recovery community and make a positive impact on your own recovery, too. And with help from places like Good Landing, you can get started sooner than you think.