People Magazine recently featured a cover story on actor Matthew Perry. For more than a decade in the 1990s and 2000s, Perry had a starring role in the mega-hit NBC sitcom “Friends,” a position which earned him international fame and a salary reaching as high as $1 million per episode. While most people would assume that such success would mean that he would be living on the top of the world, the truth of the matter was another story entirely. In reality, Perry was struggling with an addiction to the opiate prescription painkiller Vicodin, as well as being an alcoholic. In his own words, Perry says that eventually “things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew.”
He spent years trying to get sober. Rehab worked for him only when he finally made the decision that he wanted help. In his current life as a recovered addict, he now has turned his efforts to helping others to overcome similar problems to the ones that he himself faced.
Mr. Perry converted his beach house in Malibu into Perry’s House, a sober-living facility where residents can complete their recovery from addiction and get their lives back on track. Furthermore, he has turned into a passionate public advocate for drug courts, the system in which people who are arrested for drug-related criminal offenses are sentenced to rehabilitation and treatment rather than being punished the same as if they were violent offenders. In his efforts to help others fight to recover from addiction, Perry told People that he has now achieved “true happiness” in life.
How Helping Others Can Help You Recover from Addiction
Matthew Perry’s discovery of true happiness through helping others is one that has been made by countless people before him, and it is a well-established feature of many addiction recovery program. For example, the Alcoholics Anonymous program includes service as a major component of the system, as members are expected to take on responsibilities in the group and to help newer members to travel their own path to recovery. The reasons why this would be important are numerous. To begin with, helping other people tends to take the attention off of yourself, something that can be of enormous benefit for a recovering addict. Rather than continuing to focus on your own problems and the physical aspects of recovery, your attention turns outward onto the other person. When you assist the other person in making progress and receive gratitude for your efforts, this reward can give you an enormous boost in your own happiness and sense of well-being. In fact, the experience of helping can become an “addiction” in its own right, as you may find that you enjoy it so much that it takes on a high level of importance in your life.
Another reason that providing help can be advantageous for a recovering addict is that it gives an opportunity to gain perspective. As you progress through your own recovery, it is easy to lose sight of how far you have come and even to become critical of yourself when you feel cravings. By working to help another person who is headed down the same road as you are, you get to look back and see where you started. You will tend to recognize in that person’s situation many of the same types of barriers that you faced, and you will be able to provide meaningful encouragement, since you yourself were up against those obstacles and have now successfully overcome them. It is from this viewpoint that a percentage of people who complete the rehab program at Narconon end up deciding to stay on and join the staff.
A large percentage of the employees at Narconon centers worldwide are individuals who finished their own rehabilitation and then chose to serve in a position of helping other people in the process of recovering from addiction.