Giving Back and Growing From It:
A Guide to Being the Best Version of Yourself After Rehab

Fist bump

How do we create our lives in such a way to be the best version of ourselves? This is a quest that everyone faces, whether they are recovering from addiction or not. But the truth is, recovering addicts do sometimes stumble and find hardship, even after they have kicked a drug habit for some time.

But this doesn’t happen to everyone. And for those who make it into a totally relapse-free life, the “secret to success” in their recovery often lies in the fact that they spend much of their time helping others.

The Key Lies in the Help

According to the Action for Happiness (a nonprofit group for connecting volunteers to worthwhile volunteer opportunities), helping others is not only the right thing to do and the good thing to do, but it also makes those who give that help happier and healthier themselves. Happiness begets happiness, and when we help others, we help ourselves a bit too.

So how can recovering addicts help others? How can those in recovery continue to heal themselves, while helping others in tandem? How can those in recovery create the best version of themselves by giving their time in the support of their fellow man?

Careers Directed at Helping Others

White guy helping on construction site

I can’t stress enough the sheer therapeutic power to a recovering addict that comes from helping people. And what better way to dedicate a significant time every week to helping others than to pursue a career that revolves around helping others?

When you pursue a career which helps others, you dedicate your life to the improvement of others’ conditions, and you are remunerated for it, too. Millions of people choose to do this regardless of past addiction or not. The goal of living a life in the service of others might be one of the most altruistic goals one could possibly have.

It’s well known that one of the most important things one can do as soon as they get out of rehab is to get a job. But it doesn’t have to be just any old job. Rather than taking the first job that becomes available, search instead for a job that has some aspect of helping others within its daily schedule. Even if it takes some work to get into such a niche, it’s well worth the time and effort invested.

For some ideas on jobs which create a meaningful impact and which really help people, check out This is not only a great resource for information on such jobs, but it is also a resource for finding affordable trade schools for these jobs.

Volunteer Opportunities for Those in Recovery

According to, volunteering is a powerful strategy for building a meaningful, drug-free life. Replacing time spent using drugs with time spent in drug-free groups and activities is incredibly therapeutic. Becoming an active member of one’s church or faith through volunteer efforts, joining a local club or nonprofit, helping out within the neighborhood are all ways in which one can spend one’s time wisely while in recovery.

Volunteer with help words on a hand

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. offers volunteer opportunities to those who have struggled with addiction and who are now clean and sober and wishing to help others. The NCADD program is called “Giving Back,” and the group is always seeking help in various ways such as committee work, logistical support for events, participating in fundraisers, recovery celebrations, answering phones, preparing mailings, selling tickets for events, etc. When recovering addicts help out with NCADD or groups like it, not only are they helping others, but they’re helping themselves grow and expand as individuals, too.

Recovering addicts are in a unique position. They are men and women who have survived terrible and harsh life experiences, and who have come out winning on the other side of it all. With that in mind, recovering addicts tend to be well-positioned to help those who are still struggling with addiction. While this is generally not recommended until a recovering addict has obtained full stability and has had a period of time recovered and clean from drugs and alcohol, this is a great way that recovering individuals can help others.

Help the Family

One of the first steps that anyone in recovery can take would be through developing true connections with their family members and loved ones. And the first way in which you can help your loved ones is by repairing your damaged relationships with them. That’s step one.

Next, see what you can do to make their lives better, to aid them in their own quest for happiness. Always be a help, never a burden. Sometimes, it takes the family some time to come around to having this new version of you around, and that’s understandable. During years spent mired in addiction, an addict has been more of a detriment to his family, not a helping hand.

Be authentic, keep your word, listen instead of talking, and be observant to how you can make your family members’ lives better. The truest version of yourself lies in finding the version of yourself that actively contributes to the happiness of those you care about.

Increase Your Education

Young man learning
“Education is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the world.”
—Nelson Mandela

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Mandela’s quote is just as meaningful today as it was when he first stated it in 1990. In the framework of addiction recovery, getting educated once one gets off of drugs and alcohol elevates an individual to an entirely new spectrum of opportunity and growth potential.

When people who are in recovery choose to increase their education, whether it is through finishing high school, getting one’s G.E.D., going back to college, obtaining certification through a trade school, taking religious courses at a church, attending conferences or study groups, or even just reading books at the library, they are making a determined effort towards expanding their own mind, and they enhance their knowledge and potential as a result.

If you want to help more people, you will be exponentially more capable in doing so if you know how to help people. The more you know, the more you can change. The more you understand, the better results you can achieve in improving the lives of those around you.

Take Steps Everyday Towards Helping Others

While in recovery, it is wise to take steps and make concerted moves, every day, towards helping others. Whether it’s through your career, within your own family, within your community, as a part of a group or organization, or one-on-one with someone else in recovery, all of these helping opportunities not only serve to make the world a better place, but they serve to help you grow too. Make help a part of your life, and you will be eternally better for it.


Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.