Service in Sobriety


Individuals who have a history of problems with alcohol are more likely to stay sober if they help others. This is the conclusion of research carried out by Maria Pagano, associate professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in a projected called Service to Others in Sobriety (SOS), supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

“The disease of addiction is a physical, mental, and spiritual malady, a root cause of which is ego-centric thinking,” explained Pagano in an article for Grapevine, the magazine read by members of AA and their families. “Alcohol spirits used to be the solution for getting through life. Learning to depend upon a Higher Power and getting out of self through helping other equips an alcoholic or addict with sufficient power to live life sober and to overcome ego-centric thinking.”

In a sample of 195 adolescents court-referred to residential treatment in Northeast Ohio, she developed the SOS questionnaire, the first valid tool that quantifies the myriad of ways youths help others in addiction recovery.  With further support from the Foundation, Project SOS will explore the ways in which helping others, and spirituality, help adolescents stay sober and from returning to a life of crime.