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On Helping Others in Recovery… Or Simply Others in General

January 2019
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One of the most rewarding aspects of sobriety, and one of the simplest, is working with another alcoholic with the hope of no more reward than they kick addiction as you did.  Watching the addiction clouds part and the sun shine on a newly recovering drunk or addict is glorious to watch.  When you see another experience the delight of freedom for the first time in a long time, well it just doesn’t get any better than that.

We get to experience that feeling all over again for ourselves.

The key to working with others is our experience.  It’s tough to give someone something we don’t have ourselves.  In fact, if one wishes to know if they’re “working the program” properly, that first few times they go to work with someone else, it should scare the hell out of them.  We should wonder if we’ve got enough good to pass on to someone else, but know that’s what we have to do to stay sober, so we push through it and give freely.

This is how we know we’ve got the proper amount of humility.  If not, it helps to knock ourselves down a few pegs.

There is action and more action.  “Faith without works is dead”. … To be helpful is our only aim.  – Alcoholics Anonymous page 88-89

And it’s as simple as that.

If we want to know how our recovery is working, all we need do is work with someone who is new to the program.  If we are down, we help someone else get out of their hole – this, by the way, works for depression as well.  I always find it interesting that the psychiatric community has yet to embrace “working with others” as a viable aid in coming out of depression.  I have a feeling it has a lot to do with the fact there’s no money changing hands in that.  Anyway, I digress.

When we help someone else, not only do we remember how to help ourselves, we remember how good we’ve got it in the first place.  That is a pretty wonderful place to be.

Thanks for reading.  Ride hard, my friends.

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10 Comments

  1. I wonder, is there any sort of group whereby ex depressed people get together? You’ve made me think. I don’t think that there is. Perhaps it’s because it’s not like drinking where there is a viable ‘thing’ in which to measure one’s progress. As in, whether the person is actually still physically drinking alcohol. But trying to measure someone’s mental state is far more difficult as there’s nothing tangible with which to measure it with. Also, dare I say it, it does have the unfortunate habit of coming back from time to time if there’s a ‘trigger’. Sorry I’m rambling! But suffice to say, great post … loved reading it. Katie

  2. bgddyjim says:

    Ah, but there is a viable thing to measure. Am I happy? Am I doing what it takes to live a fruitful life? A no answer to either one of those means I’m on the phone to my sponsor… The fact that alcohol may be involved is inconsequential. I only worked the program at alcohol for the first year or two. After that I worked the program at the rest of my life so I wouldn’t go back to it. I think the idea deserves a better post with a little more explanation. I’ll get to work on that.

  3. Mark Jerzak says:

    Great to hear you’re helping others mate. I love that song by Macklemore called “starting over” about alcoholism. You’re an awesome role model brother

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    This sentence resonates so strongly with me. ‘When we help someone else, not only do we remember how to help ourselves, we remember how good we’ve got it in the first place.’ So true. We have volunteered at our Food Bank weeklong for over a decade. Amazing how grounding it can be to help those who wonder where the next meal is coming from.

  5. I love this. Helping other people and receiving those benefits has been a huge part of my sobriety. I learned that all over again for the first time. It’s what I live by today. Great post man. Ride on! Write on!

  6. Tabitha says:

    Responding to the mention of helping others as a way to combat ones own depression, I recall a story regarding a woman who went to her pastor regarding her depression. Long story short, he took a talent of hers (baking the best cookies) and told her to bake cookies for certain people as homework after her sessions with him. After a (very) few sessions, he noticed she had not returned; when he did see her and ask where she had been, she let him know she had no need to come back due to all of the visits she had been making delivering cookies.
    Doing for others IS a remedy for one’s own ailment.

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