From 24 Hours a Day, May 1: "The real meaning of the word charity is to care enough about other people to really want to help them."

Before I joined my 12 Step program, I don't think I could honestly say that I cared all that much about helping others. If truth be told, I'm not sure that I cared all that much about others at all—forget about the helping part!

Addiction is like that. It kind of clouds the mind, leaving no room for anything or anyone else other than the "Drug Of Choice"—whatever it is we addicts use to soothe ourselves. That comes first and foremost—i.e. I feel bad, hurt, lonely, scared, worried, etc., and this object (be it alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, gambling, etc.) makes me feel better... Ahhhhhh, now I can relax... until the guilt hits, that is, and then we just dip into our "pot of gold" (our substance bucket) again, to make us feel better from this secondary issue/ problem (the guilt, the remorse, the promises of "I'll never do this again").

Where is there room in all that for thinking about others, much less helping them?!

There isn't, actually.

Working a Program and getting sober/abstinent is the way that we clear out the mess of this cyclical pattern—the feeling, the substance-using, the guilt, and the re-using.

Once the cycle is broken, we suddenly see the light and see the others; and our natural, G‑d-given instinct of wanting to help other people in their struggles comes to the fore.

Call it charity, call it loving, call it sharing, call it helping—the words don't really matter so much.

My point is: the Program allows us to find that place of helpfulness and caring, right there inside of ourselves, inside of our own hearts, where it was hiding, all covered up, the whole time.