The Role of Community Service in Holistic Recovery Programs:
There are many different strategies taken by addiction treatment centers in trying to help alcohol and substance abuse addicts through recovery. Many of these approaches rely on very “traditional” 12-step program tactics that can be effective, but (alone) they can also alienate people who don’t usually thrive in classic-teaching style settings. Other strategies include work / job skills training, traditional therapy treatments, nutritional counseling. Today, we will focus on one in particular: a commitment to community service.
Why Community Service?
While we are proud of many of our unique and individualized treatment programs here at Came To Pass, we chose community service for this post specifically; Not only as an effective part of our holistic recovery approach, but also as a valuable part of what ties us to the Flagstaff community.
While Came To Pass certainly did not invent the idea of having recovering addicts do community service as a part of their re-entry program, we wanted to speak about our first hand experience of how and why it can be such a special part of working towards a sober life.
What People Who Study Addiction Say:
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has outlined four main life-concept-categories that are necessary to support a life in recovery. And, this idea of Community Service actually helps build strength in at least two of them:
- Purpose (conducting meaningful daily activities) and
- Community (having relationships and social resources to participate in society and grow with others in friendship, love, and hope).
To clarify, this means that people in the heart of studying recovery and new ways to help people who struggle with addiction, overwhelmingly agree that adding community service participation to any addiction treatment program, increases the chances of success for those participants.
The Heart of the Matter:
Lastly, on a personal level, our Came to Pass Co-Founder, Graciela DeMoral, shared some very insightful thoughts by explaining some of the thinking and feelings of recovering addicts behind why and how this method can be helpful to them in any recovery program.
In her own words:
“[During active addiction, addicts have a tendency to be “takers” [from society] and feel conflicted and remorseful about it. Whether they literally steal monetarily from their family and friends, or if they’ve taken advantage in other ways through their poor, addiction driven choices (i.e. robbing friends and family of sleep, peace of mind, etc.)… [With that in mind], our goal is that by volunteering in the community, residents obtain a healthy boost of self-worth, and self-forgiveness for the wreckage in their past…If anything, we at least know that the act of giving back provides a natural sense of accomplishment. And, those feelings must be cherished and constantly added up in order to re-build a new and healthier life in recovery.”
-Graciela DeMoral (2018)
Grace also speaks about the progress she’s seen, right before her eyes, (at least in part) due to the community service work of our residents. And she adds that, while some addicts may be working towards recovery on their own (outside of a treatment facility), they too may want to consider these ideas about volunteering. Community service is, of course, never a bad idea to add to a list of possible new hobbies, and healthier activities to participate in.
Giving Back in Action at Came to Pass:
Considering all of this data, Came to Pass (CTP) residents volunteer for approximately 3-6 hours per day, Monday’s & Friday’s. Most often they do so at the Flagstaff Family Food Center (see photo above). It usually involves directly assembling, packing, and even helping to distribute emergency food boxes to Flagstaff families in need. One CTP resident told me he doesn’t mind it, because, “it’s better than sleeping or doing nothing (which is what I’d usually be doing if I was just at home this time of day), and it actually even feels like you’re helping someone, which is pretty awesome”.
Lastly, for Flagstaff, this means Endless Opportunities to Connect and Collaborate!
While Flagstaff Family Food Center is the main Flagstaff community volunteering partnership that we have at the moment, we are always interested in forming new relationships! So, if you happen to be a part of a local non-profit that you think may fit well with some recovering volunteers, please don’t hesitate to contact us, here! We are always the ways that we can be involved in more communal and public-service-based projects, here in Northern Arizona.
All in all, we at Came To Pass hope that our residents, (and anyone fighting addiction) can come to understand volunteering as a way to contribute back to their community and to themselves.
As the healing of recovery can be a long road, we encourage all who are struggling to try adding this community service piece as a means to increase their self confidence, and feel a small opportunity towards making “universal amends”, because ultimately their healing, is also the world’s healing. You know?
As always, thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to comment below, and subscribe to get more tips, updates, and insights, as Came to Pass continues our journey as a new Flagstaff community member.