Addiction can be a very powerful urge that can be very hard to say no to. Even after long periods of sobriety, you may still feel intense pulls towards the urge to use a substance of choice, sometimes simply to relieve the incessant obsession.
For that reason, a big part of your recovery is learning how to cope with and resist addiction. You must be prepared for moments where you will feel an obsessive pull back to alcohol or drugs, and work out an action plan to not give in. Fortunately, there are multiple tools at your disposal that can help you stay strong. One that has been proven effective in many people's lives is doing work for the good of other people.
Helping Others Distracts You from Your Own Urges
One the most basic level, anything that can distract you into getting out of your head and enjoying the present moment will be a wonderful tool in helping you reduce your craving. Getting out in the world and interacting with people and working together with them on a project is a very helpful way to stop thinking about your addiction, and working instead to have a deep, fulfilling, and happy addiction-free life.
Even though it may feel overwhelming at first, simply by making a step away from your addiction, and towards a productive and time-consuming activity, you slowly learn how to un-learn patterns of addiction, finding other, better ways to use your time and thoughts.
Helping Others Gives Your Life a Sense of Purpose
While the effect of a distraction or escape could also be accomplished simply by reading, exercise, listening to music, or having a fun sober party, volunteering or seeking to do good in other people's lives can have an even strong effect in helping reduce your obsessive craving. When you are in the throws of an addiction, you loose sight of all other aspects of your identity.
The craving may seem so strong, that you find yourself unable to think about or do anything else, and your life looses a sense of purpose. Doing good for other people helps you overcome this, because it allows you to get your life back and discover a new sense of purpose. While your passion used to be your addiction, you can now replace it with a better passion, something truly worth living for.
Helping Others Helps You Work Through Feelings of Guilt and Shame
Addictive cravings make it hard to think about anyone's needs other then your own, turning you into a "selfish person," and making it impossible or very difficult to make a positive contribution to anyone else's life. This may have caused pain in the lives of people around you, pain that you know feel responsible for.
But the good news is, as you peruse recovery, you will become more and more powerful against your own cravings. Now is the time to give back, to help others, and practice being selfless. This can be a very effective way of mitigating against feelings of inadequacy, fear, and guilt. You can disprove feelings of shame by living a life that is bringing good things to others.
Helping Others Connects You to a Community
One of the more important things you can do for yourself in recovery is build positive relationships with other people who will support you and encourage you when things get rough. Volunteering and helping others can be a great way to meet other people, able to support and encourage your own journey, and help you live a purposeful life.
For all these reasons, volunteering and finding other ways to help others can be an excellent way to help you overcome addiction. If you live your life looking for ways to help others, you will probably discover that you are also helping yourself.