Being of service is often recommended as part of recovery. This can look like a lot of different things. If you want to do advocacy work about addiction and recovery, there are lots of options.
Working Towards Policy Change and a Compassionate Approach
Black and white people use drugs at similar rates, but Black people are six times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses. This makes criminal justice reform a crucial issue when it comes to addiction and recovery.
The Drug Policy Alliance—a non-profit whose vision states that they envision “a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights”—suggests calling your elected officials to ask them to help end punitive drug war policies. The alliance has some tips for doing so here.
You could also donate to a specific cause, like the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice or the Equal Justice Initiative. Advocacy like this makes real change; it helped lead to a 2020 election in which several bills passed prioritizing treatment over criminalization. Punishment doesn’t help anyone. People need treatment, support, and compassion.
Another option is to work to end stigmas. You can do this every day in small ways by altering the language you use. Instead of calling someone an “addict” or a “junkie,” use phrases that affirm a person’s humanity such as “he struggles with addiction.” The language we use matters. It can either reinforce or break stigmas, and stigmas can keep people from seeking the help they need.
If someone in your life shares negative beliefs about people with addiction, that’s a chance to open a respectful conversation. It can be scary, but coming at it from a place of love rather than blame can really help. Bringing it up shows you trust the person and care enough to want to have hard conversations.
Learning and reading about addiction in your free time can help you feel more confident having these conversations. We’ve listed books about addiction, recovery and mental health here, here, here, and here, and podcasts about these topics here.
Sharing your story of addiction can also help destigmatize it. You can write about it, post about it online, volunteer to speak at a school, or any number of other things. It’s always helpful to cater to your strengths when advocating for change.
Search for Ways to Volunteer
Another method is to volunteer at an organization that works to prevent or treat addiction. A google search including your city or town, “addiction,” and“volunteer” should help you find places. I looked it up for my city and found a ton of options.
Being Sober is an Asset
If you’re in recovery yourself, you’re a great candidate for this type of work. You understand the impacts of addiction firsthand, as well as how recovery changes your life for the better. Your voice and experience are so useful for making the world a more friendly place to people struggling with addiction.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a great life in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.