According to the National Institute of Health, substance abuse costs our nation over $700 billion dollars per year in heath care, crime and lost productivity expense. If you, a friend or a family member has been affected by drug or alcohol addiction, you can be particularly impactful as a volunteer by helping members of your community get back on track, and stay on track.
Reverse a dangerous trend.
(Volunteer Commitment: Flexible)
Opiate addiction is one of the fastest-growing substance abuse problems in the U.S. Fueled by a dramatic increase in opioid prescriptions, and exacerbated by readily-available heroin when prescriptions run out, opioid-related deaths soared to more than 29,000 in the year 2014. The A Man in Recovery Foundation is one organization working to help. The foundation has many needs, including help planning and conducting awareness and fund-raising events, staffing those events, participating in Opiate Recovery Groups, giving community speeches about the organization’s work, and inviting others to join the movement. Visit their volunteer site if you’re interested in helping out.
Help snuff out the butts.
(Volunteer Commitment: Comprehensive/Event Based)
For volunteer opportunities at the community level, the American Lung Association runs the Freedom From Smoking® program. The organization provides the resources to host your own clinic where you’ll introduce cessation techniques to participants, coordinate activities, and facilitate group interaction. If you have enthusiasm, empathy and nicotine addiction knowledge, you may be an ideal candidate to host. Learn more, and volunteer here.
Drive home safety.
(Volunteer Commitment: 1-3 hours/evening)
Want to help members of your community and potentially save dozens of innocent lives? Volunteer to be a designated driver. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has links to programs offered by professional sports organizations, ride services and more. Many concert and sports venues offer free food and/or non-alcoholic beverages to guests who pledge to be a designated driver for their friends. Learn more at fansdontletfansdrivedrunk.org.
Simply show them the way.
(Volunteer Commitment: Brief/Ongoing)
You don’t have to be an expert on substance abuse prevention and rehab to make a difference. Just pointing someone in the right direction when you learn of a problem can help ensure your friends and family get the help they need. These links below are great places to start.
If you’re active on social media, you can share this Create the Good article, or make your own personal post about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. And be sure to share the links above.
Good with kids? How about animals?
Whether you can spare a few hours per week as a Big Brother or Big Sister, or open your heart and your home to an abandoned cat or dog, opportunities abound for volunteers looking to help people and pets in need.