They say connection is the opposite of addiction. Serving others has given me a sense of community and comradery nothing else has. As alcoholics, even those not physically incarcerated find themselves locked deep in the dungeons of their mind. I have never felt more alone than at the peak of my alcoholism. It wasn’t just because I’d alienated all of my friends (though I had). My obsession of self shackled me long before those iron bars clinked behind me. I was bound for jails, institutions, and death. My only comfort from the pain was to drink into oblivion, or at least incoherence. In prison I found two tools that freed me from the prison of self. The 12-steps and service. This may come as a surprise to some, but there are many opportunities to serve behind the razor wire. Custodial duties for which you are not compensated, hobby craft for charities like Primary Children’s, mentoring new inmates to help them avoid a wreck, being a friendly ear for a struggling cell mate, or using the knowledge you have to educate those who struggle academically. You may worry about being taken advantage of, but no one can take what you freely give. In the program I’m in, the chances to serve others have increased. I teach classes, tutor individually, and work to make sure the section is clean. I am receiving just as much or more than I give of the key to my long-term sobriety. I feel more at ease. I feel clarity of mind. My higher power has blessed me exponentially and on a daily basis. These are habits I can carry with me to the streets. I believe it is by divine design that the easiest way to feel connected to someone is to serve them.