Altruism is made up of the small decisions we make to put others before ourselves. This is vital for my recovery if I am going to maintain my sobriety. I always try to think of others before myself but addiction is a selfish disease. Practicing the principle of selflessness in my life has not always been easy, but is definitely worthwhile when I see the benefits of a selfless act. If we all tried to be more generous with our time, love, and compassion, the world would be a much better place.
Ive always tended to put others before myself, both in my addiction and in my recovery. This has been tricky for me because Ive become quite codependent at times. I have a hard time watching others struggle. At this point in my recovery, I have acknowledged when the help I am providing is out of selfish motives or out of co-dependence. Being selfless is almost natural for me. I know in my heart I am a caring person. I am a very caring person and am aware of and observant of those around me. With awareness and balance, I have been able to concern myself with others in a healthy manner. It is important for me to continue giving back and living in a state of gratitude in order to help those struggling with addiction. You only keep what you have by giving it away. Grace, love, and support have uplifted me into the person I am today and will only stay strong in my recovery by showing the same to others. The care we show towards others, helps us grow both individually and as a whole. It strengthens our bonds and breeds an understanding of connection we all desire.
Recovery is based on altruism, being selfless and helping others is the result of working the steps. In my addiction I was a very selfish, cold hearted person that cared about no one but myself. The only thing that really mattered to me was where and how I was going to get my drugs for the day and it was like that the whole time. In my addiction I have hurt others because of my selfishness and have ruined many relationships that I will never have again. Even when I first got sober I still struggled with my selfishness for the first couple of months until I realized that the world really doesn’t revolve around me and that It feels good to get out of myself and help someone out who is in need. Nowadays I love it when I can help someone who is struggling because I have been there before and I know how important it was for me to have someone help me at the start. Living and learning here at South Orange County Detox & Treatment has turned me into an altruistic human being who really makes a difference. I can now see the growth that I have made and I am proud of the service I can provide for other addicts and alcoholics and I am proud of the man I have become.
Where would society and civilization be if selfless individuals or groups didn’t exist? Where would things go if selflessness were more abundant? This question of altruism has had me pondering where I was and where I can be if I were to be more kind, caring, compassionate and aware of others’ needs. For years, during my addiction, I was as selfish as one could be. I would always put my needs before anyone else and couldn’t attempt to be there for others if I didn’t satisfy my hunger for the drug first. This behavior led to many strained and broken relationships resulting in resentment of others, and even more so of myself. I hated myself for what I had become- everything my true sense devalued.
Today, with Salina’s help, I am working to put in more effort into altruistic acts. I am trying to get out of my comfort zone to help and care for others. In the process, I have had a surprising revelation about myself. I have seen and shown myself that even the selfless act of helping others without expecting anything in return has revealed leadership qualities that I thought I was not capable of. Who would have thought that helping and being there for others could result in benefits for myself.
Some biologists believe it’s human nature, the desire to help. Scientists believe we're biologically programmed to empathize. I think it's one of the reasons our species has lasted this long. We have an innate instinct to support each other. You can only take care of yourself for so long, because let's face it, some problems are way too big to carry on our own. In addiction, I was only concerned about helping myself. If I was doing something for you, it probably wasn’t out of selflessness or kindness – it was tied into some form of manipulation or deception that would help me in the end. Before addiction, I cared deeply about others. When I was younger, I’d cry watching Dumbo. My parents could hardly take me commercial fishing because I’d throw the fish back in the water. If anything, I was too sensitive – it may have contributed to my addiction. But drugs numbed empathy and my desire to help. And unless it was related to drugs, I didn’t want your help either.
My boyfriend was in recovery. We would get in these blowout fights whenever he asked me to stop using. He’d try to tell me to slow down. Or that my behavior was ridiculous. Or that he loved me and wanted me to be healthy. But it seemed like he was trying to interfere with my life. Your own selfishness becomes completely invisible when you’re addicted. And the more a person cares – the more they become an obstacle. It’s horrible because you start hating them for loving you and trying to help. It would be so much easier to escape if no one cared. But somehow he stayed. It’s hard to imagine why because he had every reason to go. Even in recovery, addicts are like a bad cold – nasty, but persistent. Addicts: Nasty, aggressive, unstoppable. And we are just the kind of people you want on your side when you’re really screwed.
The most selfless form of love is expressed through altruistic acts. It’s doing something for someone else with no benefit to yourself in return. Some philosophers argue true altruism doesn’t exist and we’re all driven by the need for praise, adoration, or social status. But I disagree – true altruism is driven by empathy and love, and it’s actually all around us. Without it, it’s hard to imagine why the passengers and crew members of United Flight 93 would sacrifice their lives to foil a terrorist plot on September 11th. Without it, volunteers wouldn’t risk their lives to help victims of a natural disaster. In today’s political climate, and with death and pain everywhere it’s easy to get discouraged. But whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at an airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see it. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion love actually is all around.
Communication. It’s the first thing we really learn in life. The funny thing is once we grow up, learn our words, and really start talking, the harder it becomes to know what to say. As babies we were easy. One cry meant we were hungry; another we were tired. It's only as adults that we become difficult. We start to hide our feelings and put up walls. It can get to the point where we never really know how anyone thinks or feels, even ourselves. Without meaning to, we can become masters of disguise with only surface level relationships -- void of true connection or intimacy. I think this is something all humans tend to experience, addict or not. In addition to overcoming this obstacle, being an addict doesn’t lend itself well to the making of friends – maybe because life and mortality are in our faces all the time. Maybe because in staring down death every day, we’re forced to know that life, every minute, is borrowed time. And each person we let ourselves care about is just one more loss somewhere down the line. For this reason, I know some addicts who just don’t bother making friends at all – I was one of those people for a long time. As I got older and slipped deeper and deeper in my addiction, the more I distanced myself from loved ones. The only new connections I really made were drug connections. Since I usually had ulterior motives, I assumed everyone else did as well – so I kept people at a distance, not really trusting anyone.
A brain study revealed that when placed in an MRI, our reward center lights up when another person sits in the room. Neurons fire when we talk to someone or think about someone – and they go haywire when we hold someone's hand. Our brains and bodies are programmed to seek each other out and connect. In prison, the worst possible punishment (arguably equivalent to death) is solitary confinement. Human connection is such a basic need that even innocent prisoners would rather interact with rapists and murderers than be alone. In fact, the brain is so ill-adapted to isolation that it drives people mad. Prisoners in solitary confinement become anxious, angry, prone to hallucinations and wild mood swings, and unable to control their impulses. If so many activists and psychologists consider solitary confinement torture, then why do so many of us self-isolate and convince ourselves it’s “because we prefer being alone?” Why do we often run for the hills when we feel the slightest connection? Why do we feel compelled to fight what we're hard-wired to do? Maybe it's because when we find someone or something to hold onto, that feeling becomes like air and we're terrified we're going to lose it. And trust me – you can get pretty good at being alone. But, most things are better when they're shared with someone else. We’re supposed to feel. We’re supposed to love. And hate. And grieve. And break. And be destroyed. And then build ourselves again. That’s life – that’s the entire point of being alive. We can’t avoid it or extinguish it. At some point, we have to make a decision.
Some people make it look so easy, connecting with another human being. It’s like no one told them it’s the hardest thing in the world. But now I’m making it my job to move that line, to push each loss as far away as I can. Because just like we need food and water, humans need each other. I lost both my best friend & my boyfriend to this disease, among countless other friends. Despite the deep pain & grief that accompanies death, not for a moment have I regretted the close relationship we had and letting them in. In fact, I wish I didn’t waste so much time putting up walls and making them work so hard to tear them down. The only thing that haunts me is at night is wondering if they truly knew how much I loved them. What I'm learning in recovery is that these walls don’t keep other people out, they fence me in. Life is messy. That’s how we’re made and how it’s supposed to be. So, I can either waste my life drawing lines, or live my life crossing them.
I believe that as humans we all desire connection between one another. Connection, or having a similar bond in common brings us together. For example, I am a musician and believe that music connects me to other people that also love music. We all want and desire to feel connected amongst each other but also to something bigger or a power greater than us, or God. This spiritual connection to God and to others brings peace, love and joy. In my disease I became disconnected and isolated myself from my family and friends. I have 30-days today and feel much better and more connected to people who love and support my sobriety. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to reconnect myself to my foundation, God
I once heard somewhere , “The opposite of addiction is connection”. I used to think what does that even mean, of course I believed that the opposite of addiction was just staying clean and free from drugs and alcohol. The more I thought about it, I realized that the root of my addiction steamed from feeling alone and the lack of connection with everyone and everything around me. The only connection I had was to my addiction, my drugs and my booze. Building a solid foundation of genuine, meaningful relationships has shown me what true connection actually feels like and have giving me much more to live for that I thought could ever be. South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD) has shown me a connection that I thought wasn’t possible. Without the care from SOCD I would still be on the streets looking for a drug connection rather than pursing the meaningful life I have today. I owe my life to those who have helped me out of the grave that I once had dug for myself.
You can say my recovery relies simply on the connection I’ve made with not just others but myself. The connection I’ve made with those I surround myself with has helped me go beyond my comfort zone. Making a connection with another addict in the program or a supportive friend or family member is the most important factor in my recovery, in my opinion, because without reaching out and getting to know people will only leave me by myself and this is what my inner circle prefers. So the connection I’ve made with the others in my recovery has taught me how to reach out when I need help when I’m in a bad headspace, or even just to have a helpful hand in a simple favor. More importantly, making a connection with another human-being is the essence of life. On a more intimate level, getting to know someone for who they are – to realize and really understand, only influences me to become the best person I can be and over time the connection I’ve made and choose to continue making will help strengthen my progress in my recovery.
Throughout life, and due to addiction, I’ve faded away from who I truly am. The lines that tethered me to my moral foundations were cut away, leaving me miserable, passive and searching for solace in all the wrong places. Making the decision to clean up, work on my defects and become a better person has helped to guide me back to the cornerstones of my foundations that makes me who I was meant to be. It hasn’t been easy. It’s as if I’m going to war with myself to kill the man I’ve been in order to defeat this alter-ego who had taken me prisoner. Once the smoke clears and the dust settles, I’m able to rebuild – to re-connect with my family, friends and most importantly myself. But I can’t do it alone. I need allies to connect with as well – support groups, a higher power, hobbies and passions. A full life wasn’t meant to be lived alone.