Kindness is the quality of being considerate and friendly towards others. It is a force that makes the world go round. Kindness also plays a vital role in successful recovery from substance use or abuse. For example, one simple act of kindness can motivate a person to finally seek out treatment and recovery. When acts of kindness are carried forward, it can encourage people in similar situations to seek help as well.
While kindness does not replace the necessity of treatment, it does play a key role in boosting mood and self-esteem. Showing kindness towards others or oneself can actively heal emotional distress that may have led an individual to use substances in the first place.
Why Is Kindness So Important?
Kindness helps those who feel alone, troubled, or are experiencing mental health triggers find solace in places other than alcohol or drugs. Many people with depression or other mental health disorders use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate these unpleasant emotions. However, self-medicating does more harm than good. In comparison, a supportive network that is kind and compassionate is far more stable and effective.
Kindness, whether in the form of a listening ear or shown through empathy, shows the struggling person that they matter. Oftentimes, people tend to distance themselves from someone struggling with addiction because they are emotionally unavailable or don’t know how to respond appropriately. At the same time, friends or family members may have boundaries set in place to preserve the relationship with their loved one struggling. They may see kindness as enabling, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Family members can still let their loved ones know that they love and care about them and support their recovery journey.
If your teen struggles with substance use or addiction, showing kindness to themselves is just as critical. They may feel shame and regret for struggling with substance abuse. However, as they work to recover, they will recognize that they still deserve recovery. Take the time to celebrate even the smallest of recovery milestones during their recovery journey.
Kindness as a Ripple Effect
When we are kind, we inspire others to be kind as well. Acts of kindness tend to have ripple effects, which help to establish genuine relationships and social support. Social connections are crucial for both reaching and maintaining long-term sobriety. When temptations or other challenging situations surface during your teen’s recovery, they can lean into their social support systems to keep them on track, avoid repeating old habits, and ultimately prevent relapse.
How Do Alcoholics Anonymous and Other 12-Step Programs Utilize Kindness?
Acts of kindness are foundational to many 12-Step programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). An act of kindness is an unexpected act of helpfulness toward someone that is done without wanting or expecting anything in return. In 12-Step programs, acts of kindness may involve showing kindness towards peers in your recovery group. Programs may also encourage participants to show random acts of kindness towards strangers, family members, or even toward themselves.
Fortunately, AA makes acts of service relatively easy. If your teen asks their group coordinator, they’ll likely be given a list of service opportunities to choose from. Some of these opportunities may include making coffee before meetings or helping set up and take down chairs. Other opportunities may involve serving community members outside of the treatment center. They can be involved with kindness as much or as little as they choose to be. Remember, no act of kindness is ever too small.
How Can I Practice Kindness Outside Of 12-Step Programs?
AA and other 12-Step programs aren’t the only places to engage in acts of service. There are many opportunities within the community to volunteer and help others. Your teen can start by looking into the local YMCA club, food banks, nonprofits, or house of worship. They can also consider getting involved with their school.
Other easy ways to practice kindness outside of 12-Step groups may include:
- Raking a neighbor’s leaves
- Showing gratitude toward someone they love
- Complimenting others
- Smiling at others
- Listening to others
- Serving at a homeless shelter
- Checking in with an old friend.
Recovery is a lifelong process that is full of ups and downs. There will be good days and hard days as they heal. However, being engaged in acts of service and kindness towards others will make those hard days more manageable. Having close, supportive relationships will help them stay on the path to a healthier future. They will be surprised at just how far simple acts of kindness, such as calling an old friend to check in, can truly go.
At Clearfork Academy, we understand that the road to recovery is paved with challenges. We believe that kindness plays a critical role in facilitating both short-term change and long-term recovery. Acts of kindness, no matter how small, can help your teen to stay motivated and encouraged during treatment and recovery. Whether your teen is trying to get sober, stay sober, or learn new coping mechanisms, our treatment center is here to help. Our compassionate staff is fully equipped to teach teenagers struggling with substance abuse healthier skills to face their problems. We use a faith-based approach in the great outdoors to help teens break the emotional and physical bonds of addiction. Our treatment methods are evidence-based and proven to work. To learn more about the importance of kindness, or to learn more about the services we offer, call us today at (888) 966-8604.