Recent research concludes that actively participating in a service role greatly increases the likelihood that a recovering alcoholic remains sober. Performing any kind of service, from community service such as working with children to taking on a service role at a meeting and sharing one’s personal story all contribute to the definition of “service” assessed in the study. Researchers first became interested in their study as they attempted to draw a correlation for the deeply entrenched belief in AA that doing service greatly increases the likelihood of prolonged sobriety and active participation in meetings and 12-Step work.
The study was conducted by Maria Pagano, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Over a period of ten years Pagano and her team of researchers determined results that showed that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous-related Helping (AAH) produced lowered alcohol use and increased interest in others at each subsequent follow-up assessment. (MedicalNewsToday).
The results indicate that active involvement in any type of service helps deter alcoholics from resorting to their previously destructive habits and behaviors. Participating in service is a way for an individual to “get outside of oneself” and be part of something bigger than the individual. Whether helping a local church with a food drive or getting the courage to share one’s story in an AA meeting, doing service has a mutual benefit for all parties involved. For the individual, service helps rid us of our demons as we stop focusing on our own insatiable wants and needs and begin to think about those around us who may or may not be less fortunate than us. For others, observing someone doing service in his or her community has a free trickle-down effect as we gain knowledge simply by listening and watching the kind actions of another person.
It has been heavily documented that when in the midst of their addiction, they are increasingly selfish and self-absorbed. Even after the addict/alcoholic gets sober, they can fall into this destructive pattern of selfishness. It is through service, that they are given the chance to be liberated from the selfish world of isolation that leads to relapse and join the realm of community, cooperation, and sharing. Get involved any way you can and help someone else today. You won’t regret your choices to give back and help both yourself and those around you.
MedicalNewsToday. Alcoholics Anonymous Participation Promotes Long-Term Recovery. n.d. 5 October 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/249979.php>.