People who are recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism are often so thankful for the help that they received from others while in the active throes of addiction that they find themselves compelled to do something to “pay it forward.” This explains why it is often a recovering addict or alcoholic that steps forward to help someone who is desperate to stop using. Sometimes, this help comes when it is least expected – or wanted. But this is what it takes in order to save a life, and once someone’s done it for you, chances are great that you’ll want to pay it forward when you’re ready.
One of the simplest ways that you can help is to make a donation of whatever amount you can afford. This could be to a homeless shelter, a center for battered women, a hospital or any other organization that offers services to those who have been affected by drug addiction and alcoholism. If you know of someone who needs to get help right now you could even offer to pay for a bus or plane ticket for them to get to the right drug addiction treatment center.
If you can’t afford to make a cash donation or you simply want to do something that involves more personal interactions with people suffering from addiction you should consider volunteering. Your services could be put to excellent use at any of the places named in the last paragraph, or you could offer to speak at schools, community centers and even jails or prisons to talk with people on the dangers of addiction and alcoholism and how to get help.
When you have some time in recovery and are in a position to do so, consider becoming a mentor or sponsor to someone who has just gotten clean. This could be through an AA or NA community if you belong to one or by taking a lost soul under your figurative wing and showing them the tools you used to break from the chains of drug addiction or alcoholism. After all, chances are great that someone did this for you not so long ago . . .
Not surprisingly, many people who work as addiction counselors or therapists are in recovery. People who have experienced addiction first hand understand that the power it has over a person is by all accounts nearly absolute; therefore triumph over this disease is an incredible accomplishment. But more than this, triumph over addiction is the difference between life and death. Because addiction and alcoholism are progressive, fatal conditions, one of the most rewarding things a recovering addict can do is to begin a career of helping others to beat this disease.
Ultimately, you don’t need to do anything to “pay it forward.” By living an honest and productive life in recovery one day at a time, you’ll be setting the example for your children, your family, and all those you care about. They’ll see you as living proof that not every situation is hopeless, and not everyone has to actually make the mistakes in order to learn from them. By staying clean and working each day on becoming a better person, you’ll be affecting more lives than you might think possible.
Just remember: put YOUR recovery first and you’ll do just fine.