I'm doing a rotation in Addiction Medicine right now, which is through the Psychiatry Department. It's an interesting rotation, because I get to both observe recovering addicts in group therapy as well as see new inpatient consults.
Group therapy is my favorite: I get to sit and observe these (mostly) men get real about their addictions, their depression, their broken lives...It's truly a gift for which I am most grateful. They are in varying stages of recovery -- some are just a few days sober, some are a few weeks, some have been down this road over and over again, and some are here for the first time. The veterans of addiction are the most inspiring, even though they have been struggling for so long. They are so brutally honest with the younger recovering addicts that it almost pains to watch. They have no problem telling the youngsters, "Hey it seems to me you're going to leave here and use today," or "You are too proud of your using, man, all I hear from you are war stories." There is, of course, a benefit to having someone with advanced medical knowledge talk to them about medications, how to organize their newly sober lives, and how to manage their coexisting depressive disorder. However, there is something invaluable to hearing from someone who has been in the trenches and who has felt the anxiety of having to live life sober for the first time in years.
So, to all those people who are Sponsors in AA, NA, etc, I salute you. Your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.