Helping Others After Addiction Recovery

young man helping a friend

It’s certainly true that different people have different reactions to completing a drug rehab program and going back home sober. Some individuals want to focus on going back to work and taking better care of themselves and their families. This is, for nearly everyone, a dramatic improvement over the situation that existed while they were addicted.

Others want to be more active, to reach out to people who are struggling with drug or alcohol use and have not yet been helped. There are more than 20 million people who need drug or alcohol rehabilitation services in the United States at the moment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only about one person in ten gets the help they need.

Those other nine? Some look for rehab but the vast majority don’t even try. This is where those who have completed rehab and are now sober can help so much. First, they completely understand the phenomenon of addiction because they have been through it themselves. Second, they probably have a very good idea what the addicted person is feeling and thinking and why he may not be seeking rehabilitation. This empathy between the person who is now addicted and the person who has recovered from addiction can provide the means to start turning that addict’s life around.

During an online chat among those who had been through rehab and were now sober, participants were asked what they would tell a person at the beginning of their path to recovery. Here’s what they said.

  • “You have nothing to lose by trying and everything to gain.”
  • “Your life is worthy of recovery. I carried a lot of guilt and didn’t think I was worth it.”
  • “Long-term recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction opens a world of possibilities. It is real, it is happening every day!”
  • “It IS possible. Don’t ever give up.”
  • “Listen to those who have recovered on the true value of sobriety. You deserve it.”

In over fifty years that Narconon has offered drug rehab services, more than 40,000 people have graduated from this program. Every time one of our graduates returns home, he brings something incredibly valuable – his experience of recovery and his knowledge that recovery is possible. The same is true of the hundreds of thousands of other people who, each year, complete rehab programs and return home, or who get sober with the help of friends, family, church, Twelve Step meetings or other means. Each person can be an ambassador for recovery.

This doesn’t mean they need to make speeches. Just speaking quietly with a struggling friend, one on one, and giving him (or her) hope helps make a community a better place to live, do business and raise children.

Have you recovered from addiction? Do you know someone who is still suffering? Drop them a card or give them a call and offer to have a cup of coffee sometime, that maybe you can help. Tell parents whose hearts are breaking that there is hope.

You don’t have to be an activist. Just friendly, caring conversations may make all the difference in the world. The result you hope for might not happen right in front of you. It might happen a day or a week later. But each time you reach out and put the truth there – that recovery is possible and worth every minute of the work to get there – you are making your world a little bit better, more honest and more truthful.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.