What is Service?
Service, simply put, is helping out in a group. In addiction we become so focused on ourselves that we lose the habit of considering what others need. In early sobriety, getting involved in helping others can be critical and is beneficial to anyone despite how long he or she has been sober.
Service can mean many different things; it can be a big commitment or a minor activity. Opportunities with meetings include chairing the meeting, serving as treasurer, GSR or helping with things that get the meeting running on time and smoothly. Maybe you decide to show up early for a meeting and prepare the meeting room. Or you could make the coffee.
Often, people who have consistently shown up to a meeting at their home group begin to take on bigger commitments. Treasurer, chair, co-chair and GSR are all positions that further your understanding of the way 12-Step groups work, what is required to keep a meeting going and provide you with much needed service.
Chair and co-chair run the meeting, sometimes for a month, several months, or just about any other duration. Some meetings have people chair certain days of the week, whereas meetings that meet less often may have someone in charge of the meeting for blocks of time of various lengths. The chair or co-chair is typically responsible for finding speakers, volunteers for the meeting readings and handing out chips.
The General Service Representative is another service position. The GSR represents his or her home group to district committees and area assemblies. He or she may have to travel to a local assembly and report back to his or her home group, then returns to the area assembly or district committee and votes as instructed by his or her group members.
Volunteering in the community is another form of service that may be done separately from 12-step and other recovery groups. Animal shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations are always in desperate need of volunteers.
The Self-Service in Service
The key to service is finding a position that you find rewarding and will maintain consistently. When you show up on time, every week, day or month, you are helping yourself and others. Though serving helps others, it helps you most of all; it helps you stay sober in various ways.
Having a service commitment helps keep your mind focused on the present. Too much time on your hands, especially in early recovery, can allow a person to get stuck in his or her own head. Self-pity, problems you’re dealing with and ruminating on the past can cause people to veer off the recovery path and into a downward spiral. Service helps you get away from the negativity and focus on helping others.
Having a service position provides you with responsibility and builds self-esteem. While suffering from addiction, we were directed by our using and needing more. In recovery, we learn to keep a healthy schedule and show up when we say we will. Over time, the consistency and fulfillment of responsibility gives us great cause to feel good about ourselves and see how far we have come.
Benefits of Service
While we were out drinking and using, all our time and energy went towards our addiction. We were completely focused on self; our entire world revolved around alcohol and drugs.
Now, in recovery, a new pastime must be found. Service positions within 12-step groups, as well as volunteering and charity work help you and others. Getting out and pitching in to help builds relationships and a new social network of people you can rely on.
By helping others, you may find new passions and discover things about yourself you didn’t know before. You challenge yourself to do better and be better, every time you show up and help out.
Continuing to sign up for opportunities to serve gives you an invaluable chance to remove yourself from who you used to be. You can prove to others, but most importantly to yourself, that you are not your addiction.
New morals and values develop as the improved version of yourself surfaces. You develop a new sense of self-worth and freedom.
The Importance of Service in Recovery
When we first arrive in the rooms of a 12-step fellowship, most of us simply take. Others make the coffee, chair the meetings, and show us the ropes.
As a more established member, it’s now your turn to help the newcomer. Service allows you to give back to the sober community that helped you. You can help others stay sober, while also helping yourself. You may wind up helping someone who otherwise would not have gotten the help he or she needs.
Many people hesitate to get a service commitment due to scheduling and time restrictions, but the vast majority of people have the time, if it were made a priority. Take the leap and sign up for one. You’ll discover the endless benefits of having a service commitment.
By being a strong sober community member, you also show others that recovery is possible and that the 12-steps work. You prove that it’s possible to change your life for the better.
Someone was there for you; be there for someone else.