Woman Helping Elderly Lady Up Stairs-What Random Acts Of Kindness Mean For Addiction Recovery

On Friday, February 17th, the United States will mark Random Acts Of Kindness Day. 

For those living in the midst of addiction and substance abuse recovery, this day and what it represents can be life-changing.

Overcome The Devastating Effects Of Addiction

It’s hard to overstate the effects of substance use disorder (drug addiction) on a person’s long-term self-esteem and self-worth

Addiction is any isolating condition, forcing a person into their own individual experience, feelings, and space to the neglect of their relationships, passions, and personal health.

And this isolation and the feelings of darkness, insufficiency, and powerlessness that drug and alcohol addiction produce are often a major obstacle to a person’s recovery. 

As The Simpsons once joked, substance abuse can feel like both the cause of and the solution to all life’s problems, trapping a person in a downward spiral of escape and despair.

Shift Your Mental Focus

What if a person struggling in addiction treatment and facing feelings of anxiety and depression could just take a break from it? What if the negative, self-demeaning internal dialogue so many of us operate with just stopped? And, what if you didn’t have to get high to make that happen?

Helping others is one of the best possible ways to do just this.

A random act of kindness, in any setting, can take you out of your own mental space and refocus you on others, on their needs, and on their joy and gratitude. 

After all, why waste time worrying about your own self-misgivings if you’re busy helping make someone else happy? Why doubt your own self-worth if someone else’s gratitude towards you is right there for the world to see?

It’s like an old saying that runs in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, “To improve your self-esteem, you must do esteemable acts.”

Finding these esteemable acts and making them happen can help you get out of your own head and powerfully change how you see yourself and the value you can add and do add to this world.

Boost Your Mood & Make Connections

Studies have demonstrated that performing random acts of kindness on a daily basis can have a more positive effect on a person’s mood and stress level than learning a new hobby on one’s own or self-distracting in other ways.

Humans are social creatures and the isolation and introspection of drug and alcohol abuse break down the connections and relationships that we rely on in both conscious and unconscious ways.

Helping others through random acts of kindness can re-establish personal bonds and provide the short- and long-term feelings of positivity and connection that even introverts crave so deeply. 

This effect has a neurochemical basis, as performing kind acts is known to stimulate the release of hormones like oxytocin (responsible for contentment, bonding, and affection), dopamine (short-term pleasure and thrill), and serotonin (responsible for mood and feelings of well-being).

We aren’t saying that a few random acts of kindness can replace antidepressants or other medications prescribed to treat diagnosed mental health disorders. But these authentic, organic neurochemical effects and the experiences they stem from shouldn’t be neglected either.

Give Yourself Some Grace

Everyone has bad days. Interactions with others will always be a mix of positive and negative. But by reaching out to acquaintances, strangers, and loved ones alike with positive intent you can also learn how to treat yourself with the same forgiveness, accommodation, and grace.

And if this sounds difficult, don’t worry. It’s best to start small, and there are plenty of professionals out there who can help.

Small Acts Of Kindness You Can Do Today

There are countless simple but meaningful ways to impact those in your life if you look for the right opportunities to do so.

Some ideas we’re happy to recommend include:

  • simply compliment someone’s hair, makeup, nails, or clothing
  • call an old friend and share a fond memory, tell them what they mean to you
  • write a thank you note to someone in your life who’s had a positive impact
  • clean the trash out of a public or natural space
  • submit a glowing LinkedIn reference for a current or former co-worker
  • make and bring someone their favorite food
  • make plans to take a friend or family member somewhere they would love to go
  • reach out to someone else in your life you know and do something together that they enjoy

We’re With You All The Way

If you struggle with substance addiction and the negativity and mental stress that comes with it, we are here to help.

Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is a professional, accredited addiction recovery center located in Boston, Massachusetts. We offer medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, peer support, family therapy, and much more in outpatient treatment formats.

To learn more, please contact us today.

Continue Reading:


Addiction Health — The Role of Self-esteem in Tendency towards Drugs, Theft and Prostitution

Frontiers in Psychology — Practicing Other-Focused Kindness and Self-Focused Kindness Among Those at Risk for Mental Illness: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation — Random Acts of Kindness Day 2023

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.