Recovery is about helping oneself towards a better life, one free of drugs and alcohol. There are several roads that addicts can take to free themselves from addiction, but, there is one common theme to a successful recovery - helping others. Helping other addicts stay sober is crucial to one's own sobriety; it's called giving back to the community that helped you stay sober. The old saying, "If you want to keep it, you have to give it away" - pay it forward. A sober community works together to help keep addicts grounded and keeps them moving in the right direction. The more connected to that community you are, the better your chances for living a healthy sober life for many years to come.
An associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Maria E. Pagano, believes that addicts who help other addicts by providing structured support through participation in community service programs helps keep one's ego at bay and reduces selfishness; egocentricity and selfish behavior are one of the root causes of relapse, by working to curb those elements of one's life you can increases your chance of a healthy recovery. "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," Pagano said in a university news release. "Helping others in the program of AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] has forged a therapy based on the kinship of common suffering and has vast potential."
Pagano calls this activity the "Helper Therapy Principle" (HTP), where one addict helps them self stay sober by helping another addict stay sober. This principle can be found every day in 12-Step rooms, the goal of helping members "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."