The Therapy of Performing Acts of ServicePhoto by Nathan Dumlao

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Much of the addiction recovery process addresses the complex internal emotions that each person is experiencing. Addiction can be an extraordinarily difficult thing to overcome and can come coupled with feelings of anxiety, depression, or any amount of other mental or physical issues. It also takes a huge toll on the relationships that someone has developed, and can cause a barrier between someone suffering from addiction and their families and loved ones. Addressing these relationships is important, as families and loved ones can have a huge impact on a person’s recovery process, but it takes time for these relationships to heal through recovery. However, people can use acts of service as a means of therapy to heal themselves as well as begin to heal their most important relationships.


Acts of service are actions that someone can accomplish for another person, regardless of them asking for it or not. It can consist of taking responsibilities upon one’s self, without the expectation of payment. It can also consist of actions that are performed with the intent to simply make another person’s day easier. These can be simple things, from cleaning parts of the house and doing laundry, to fixing another person’s computer or car. Simply making phone calls and scheduling appointments can be services that can help lighten someone else’s day. Acts of service can even include cooking someone’s dinner for them or planning a night out for them. These acts don’t necessarily have to cost money either. It is simply performing an action that someone knows another person needs or will appreciate. Performing acts of service can have an important effect for both the person in recovery as well as for their family members and loved ones.


Performing acts of service also holds a variety of benefits for the person performing them, especially when they are in recovery from addiction. Performing acts of service calls upon a few essential life and social skills that someone will need to practice as they navigate through their own recovery path. In order for someone to perform a meaningful act, they first need to express an intimate knowledge of the person they wish to serve, both what they like and dislike, as well as what they need. If someone wishes to begin to heal a relationship through performing these acts, they have to listen to the needs of another person and internalize those desires. Listening to the conversations of others and then being able to act in a helpful way without being asked requires someone to practice their own listening skills and refine their social skills. This can help someone not just improve their own relationships but can help them continue to enhance their ability to make new, meaningful relationships along the way.

Acts of service also require someone to practice other life skills, such as accountability and responsibility. Taking on these responsibilities and trying to help another can be proof that someone is doing their best to manage their time, and can be held accountable to their work. Taking on responsibilities is an important part of the recovery process, and using that practice to help someone with their relationships can give them a reason to continue taking on responsibilities as their relationships attempt to heal.

These responsibilities can also help a person begin to establish their own routines and can help them define what a new “normal” might look like after recovery. Being able to set their schedule to include these responsibilities can help them make necessary transitions to their own autonomous living as they advance farther through their recovery process. It can also help them internalize the necessary living strategies and coping skills that come with someone’s reintroduction to the “real world.”


Rebuilding relationships takes time. It isn’t reasonable to expect that if someone performs a few acts of service that their relationships will be totally healed. However, acts of service can help open up an ongoing dialogue. While establishing what the new relationship will look like, it can be important that someone in recovery does whatever they can to prove the extent of their progress to themselves and to others. These responsibilities can help a person make that point and can be proof of their effort and dedication to the recovery process. Helping others can be the beginning of reestablishing trust between family members, and can be a sign of mutual support between someone suffering from addiction and their loved ones. However, that doesn’t mean that relationships will heal overnight. Performing these acts can be the first step in a long journey to establish what someone’s new relationship will look like. Just like all stages of recovery, it is important to always keep moving forward, just one step at a time.

Recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol is a long process that requires professional help, as well as effective support circles. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and any of its co-occurring mental health disorders, the caring staff here at WisHope are ready to help. With a variety of programs available to help you and your specific situation, from outpatient and partial hospitalization programs to sober living, there is always a place for you to begin your own journey through recovery. WisHope prides itself on its sense of community and holistic recovery model, addressing the social and personal needs of each person beyond their addiction. Each program can be personalized with particular therapies that may be pertinent to you, and the trained staff will work with you to develop your own goals and path to success. For more information on the various ways that WisHope can help you, or to talk to a trained staff member about your unique situation, call WisHope today at (844) 947-4673.