Sometimes – especially when things are going well – it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are.
Throughout recovery, staying humble and grounded is vital to remaining sober. Hubris and overconfidence have taken many people out of the program. When we begin to feel an excessive amount of pride, we tend to throw caution to the wind.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, Sober College clients were given the opportunity to give back to the community through “Operation Gratitude.” This volunteer program included assembling care packages to be delivered to the men and women of the armed forces to lift their spirits. As addicts and alcoholics, we can identify with this need. Throughout our addictions, we felt beat down by life, by our personal struggles and by self-inflicted suffering. Each and every day, our lives teetered on the edge of life and death. Sometimes all we wanted was for someone to show they cared. We wanted a little hope. In a life devoid of any form of love except the love for a drug or a drink, the simplest acts of kindness might have meant the world to us.
The struggle for soldiers is different, but just as real. For a soldier, every moment poses the possibility of violence or death. The stresses of war – including seeing death on a day-to-day basis – and the rigors and duties of soldiers are experiences that only other soldiers may understand. Being thousands of miles from home in a foreign land where most of the natives are hostile is surely a struggle in itself.
Being able to provide these courageous men and women with a little piece of home, a little comfort, a little piece of hope is of the utmost importance.
CORE Sober College activities such as Operation Gratitude allow clients to take a step outside of the microcosm of their own lives. Those who serve our country do so selflessly, which contrasts greatly with the things we did throughout our active addictions. As addicts and alcoholics, we had no care for the feelings or thoughts of others. We didn’t care who we hurt; we thought we were only hurting ourselves. Little did we know that the repercussions of our using were actually more deeply felt than we could have ever imagined.
Soldiers are asked to fight wars and to risk their lives for our benefit, not their own. They fight for ideals. They fight for our way of living. They fight for their comrades. They fight for freedom. It is only right that we do our best to provide them with something (anything) to bring them hope and happiness.
The war we wage as addicts and alcoholics is against no one but ourselves. But that’s not to say that we are alone. Like soldiers, we fight for a belief – the belief that we can turn our lives around; that we can give something back to the world. We fight so that we can be examples for ourselves and for others going through similar struggles. We fight for freedom too … Freedom from addiction.
Giving back to the community by providing for our country’s soldiers allows clients to feel a gratification that is not felt very often. CORE activities allow clients to familiarize themselves with the many different ways they can reach out and engage themselves as useful members of society, while also establishing community service as a regular activity in a client’s new, sober life.