Helping Others Increases Success

-By A. Scott Roberts
M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling, Addiction Specialist

According to researchers from Case Western Reserve University, helping the community in various service opportunities increases sobriety of addicts.

“The research indicates that getting active in service helps alcoholics and other addicts become sober and stay sober, and suggests this approach is applicable to all treatment-seeking individuals with a desire to not drink or use drugs.” (Maria E. Pagano PhD. / School of Medicine).

Researchers have called this the “helping therapy principle” (HTP) and has been in practice at AA to diminish egocentrism. These findings suggest that when an addict finds opportunities to help someone, they actually help themselves.

According to this study, 40 percent of alcoholics who helped other alcoholics were able to avoid drinking during recovery, whereas only 22 percent of those that did not help others were able to stay sober.1

The 12th step in AA is all about service. The Big Book reads, “nothing will so much insure immunity as intensive work with others.” This is an invitation to share and carry your message to another.

By sharing your personal story of recovery and your testimony of how you have learned to manage your addiction, you guide those who are struggling. You give hope to the hopeless and this act may give you a stronger conviction of your own recovery.

This goes beyond addiction.

Individuals with mental and physical health conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder, AIDS or chronic pain also show an improvement from serving others as well.2

Addicts in recovery often find long-term success in “quitting” when they seek something else, something beyond themselves. Addicts may initially just want to become “sober,” but eventually find merit in living an honest life. Addicts are often lying and hiding their behavior from those they love and deal with paranoia and stigma. Living an honest life is usually very attractive to an addict.

-A. Scott Roberts
 M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling
Addiction Specialist

1-2. Maria P., Stephen P., Shannon J. (2011). Alcoholics Anonymous-Related Helping and the Helper Therapy Principle. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 2011; 29 (1)

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