Why Is Service So Important in 12-Step Programs?

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Service is a word used often in 12-Step spaces, but what does it really mean? Service is a concept we embrace in our programs at Jaywalker Lodge. We think of service when we interact with our local community in Carbondale, but we also consider what it means to serve the recovery community at large. Here we’ll discuss what service is and the benefits it provides for people in recovery.

Serving Our Community

To put it simply, service is helping another person, whether they are someone who also struggles with addiction or just another person in the community. In 12-Step programs, service works as the backbone of the operation. Meetings are run by trusted individuals who volunteer their time and energy to the cause. Both veterans and newcomers alike can play a part in service positions. Participants can serve as greeters, make coffee for meetings, bring donuts, set up and clean up the meeting space, procure anniversary chips, lead meetings and even give others rides to meetings.

There are endless ways to practice service in your own 12-Step community. Each act of service gives newcomers a chance to experience the joy of helping another human being. Service in our programs allows others to understand that helping others doesn’t need to be a huge act or grand gesture. Small but meaningful acts can become a daily, vital spiritual practice.

Offering Ultimate Connection

Addiction is a disease that thrives in isolation. Unfortunately, stigma and shame can cause those who are suffering from addiction to shut others out. Service in 12-Step programs provides an opportunity for connection within the recovery community. It destroys the notion that having an addiction means a person is inherently bad. Through helping others, a person can reconnect with their values and spirit through esteemable acts.

This deep connection can be felt throughout 12-step programs. Serving others makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. It can make you feel like you are a member of a family. Humans work better together; that’s why service works so well for our community. Serving others combats isolation and fosters long-lasting connections.

What Service Offers

Clients in 12-Step programs gain plenty of benefits from service, whether it be within their local community or to the world at large. Service can give life meaning and purpose. It’s easy to get lost when confronted with life’s big questions. This might cause some to wonder what the point of going on is and if getting better is really possible. When our clients help others, they make a positive impact on the world. Through their actions, they know that they can make the world a better place, even if it’s helping with something simple.

Service also helps clients see the bigger picture. When our clients help others, they see outside themselves. They realize that there’s more to life than their day-to-day stresses. Service can improve a person’s sense of self-worth. Helping others makes you feel better about yourself. You can find joy in doing acts of service and helping others. Service allows our Jaywalkers to see outside themselves and their individual lives, opening up their minds to the possibility of greater connection. In the past, they may have held tight to self-centered beliefs and suffered for it. Instead, a service-oriented mindset allows them the opportunity to be a positive force for change.

12-step programs completely and wholeheartedly embrace the concept of service, and this is seen even in the steps themselves. The final step, “carrying the message,” is an act of service in itself. Carrying the message of the 12-steps gives those who are still in active addiction a chance to recover.

How We Carry the Message 

A key component of our Solutions program recovery model revolves around service to others. Jaywalker Lodge takes part in work with Habitat for Humanity, Colorado Animal Rescue, Aspen Homeless Shelter, and Volunteer Outdoor Colorado. We offer service both locally and across the country. We participate in service projects and service trips in the Carbondale area and support communities from Arizona to South Dakota. Service is a core aspect of our community.

Our entire organization is self-run through the services of staff, alumni, and clients. Our alumni participate in family dinners and recovery meetings. Alumni offer their experience, strength, and hope. They make service a part of their everyday life because it allows them to grow and live happily in their recovery. At the Lodge, we learn how to give and receive service in many small ways. It’s integral to our community.

Service is foundational in every 12-Step program. Meetings are run by trusted servants acting as volunteers. Helping others can positively impact a person’s recovery. There are endless ways people in 12-Step programs can help those around them. Helping others has plenty of benefits, from raising self-esteem to expanding a person’s worldview. Service can be an act of healing and helps repair broken relationships with others and with oneself. Being there for your fellow man is the human thing to do. Our own program relies on the support of our staff, alumni, and clients who work together to create the loving, healing environment that makes up Jaywalker Lodge. We are proud to serve the community of Carbondale, Colorado, in any way that we can. Our clients take part in service projects all across the local community and beyond. To learn more about the role of service in 12-Step programs, call us at (866) 529-9255 today.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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