Recovery Coaching: How Does it Work and How Can it Help

Many people immediately assume that detox and rehabilitation are the only surefire ways of recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD). Others believe that medical detox is the elixir that will lead a person straight to recovery and sobriety.

While these treatment methods are indeed immensely effective in their way, different people often react differently to the various treatments. The sad reality is that even the treatments that have gotten the most positive results could be ineffective for some people. There are many instances wherein a constant reminder is needed to help keep a person with a history of substance abuse on the straight and narrow.

This is why there is an increasing number of people who are looking into recovery coaching, as it provides a means where people get checked for their progression or regression, and given the support, they need to get them back on track.

What is Recovery Coaching?

As defined by The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), recovery coaching is a strength-based support approach that involves the promotion of recovery by removing barriers and obstacles to recovery as done by a personal guide, mentor, or coach.

Typically, a recovery coach, also known at times as a sober coach, helps a person through issues involving substance abuse, mental health concerns, or even matters associated with dual diagnosis. The relationship between a recovery coach and the one seeking recovery is based on support, understanding, and cooperation, mainly because recovery requires work on the part of the one seeking recovery, under the guidance of the recovery coach.

Recovery coaching also necessarily involves all of the facets involved in the recovery process, including:

  • Forming a detailed plan of action
  • Finding the necessary recovery resources
  • Helping with medical concerns
  • Establishing accountability and level of support
  • Helping with tracking progress
  • Assisting with harm reduction
  • Monitor for adverse behavior

The process of recovery coaching necessarily comes during the rehabilitation phase which allows the patient to leave the treatment facility, such as the outpatient treatment phase.

What Do Recovery Coaches Do?

Before answering the question “what is a recovery coach,” it would be more enlightening if a recovery coach is differentiated from the role that they are often mistaken for: a sponsor. People in recovery are typically urged to find a sponsor, which is someone who could offer support as needed during the recovery process. A sponsor, however, is different from a recovery coach, in that they are hired to guide the patient, which means their role tends to go deeper than that of a sponsor.

It is worth noting that while it does appear that recovery coaches will be with the patient on every step of the journey to recovery, they will not help process trauma, and they will not offer counsel. These are things that therapists do, and a recovery coach is not a therapist.

They will, however, be involved deeply in many aspects of the journey to recovery, such as:

  • Help overcome obstacles
  • Guide to making healthier life choices
  • Aid in setting achievable goals
  • Instill accountability in the patient
  • Identify triggers that might set the patient off
  • Cultivate the patient’s drive to excel in work or school
  • Foster a habit of organization

From these aspects, it would appear that a recovery coach is not too different from a life coach, and in a manner of speaking, they are also life coaches, as they guide the patient to a life of sobriety and living successfully without having to use substances again.

Many might think that recovery coaches are primarily helpful only to those who are susceptible to a relapse, or to those who are having difficulty completing the rehabilitation process. The truth of the matter is that most people who go through rehab could use the aid of recovery coaching, especially during the period when they leave the facility to transition into living outside of the rehab center.

Even when the most arduous phase of detox and rehab is done, the urge to take substances does not go away. Many, still feel the urge years after completing rehab, and they were only able to stay away from it through sheer willpower. This kind of willpower, however, does not happen naturally, nor is it developed in just a short time. This is where recovery coaching comes in, as it builds a structure of developing the strength of will needed to say no to the habit.

recovery coaching

What Types Of Recovery Coaches Are There?

Much like the term “coach” itself, initially only applied to individuals who lead teams into sporting events, but is now applied to mentors and trainers alike, the term recovery coach tends to take various forms where it is found. Technically called recovery support roles, mainly because of their function, recovery coaches can be found in various forms:

Just like an escort who accompanies a person to an event, a sober escort, sometimes also called a travel escort, is typically a paid travel companion or escort who accompanies a client to where the client needs to go that is relevant to treatment, or to other places where there might be a need to ensure that the client stays sober.

These places could be a treatment center, a clinic, or even to a court-appointed meeting. This is because one of the best ways to fall back onto bad habits is during travel, as there is always a bar, a store, or a location where alcohol or other substances could be bought and taken. The sober escort, much like other escorts, accompanies the client only for the duration of the travel.

A sober companion takes the role of a recovery coach further by staying with the client in a long-term arrangement and is literally by the client’s side most of the time, or within a distance where the client’s behavior towards taking alcohol or substances could be monitored.

The sober companion may be seen as a more mobile representation of the treatment center, as it is the job of the sober companion to check if the environment where the client needs to go is free of temptations to indulge in substances again. The sober companion is typically also the one who brings the client to 12-step program meetings, where the client could learn more about how to transition better into normal life and still stay sober.

Alternatively called recovery support specialists, or peer recovery mentors, these professionals are community volunteers who do regular check-ups on people listed as recovering from substance abuse outside of a treatment facility. They could also be specialists who were hired by the recovery community organization or any other group that helps people in their recovery.

The recovery coaches typically work within the guidelines of a recovery plan, which is usually tailored to the needs of specific people. As the recovery coach could be seeing more than a few people that the recovery community organization is helping, the recovery plan helps the coach to determine the plan of action relevant to the person being seen, and also monitor their progression, or lack thereof.

There are also instances where a recovery coach is contracted by a lawyer following a court order to have a person assisted in their recovery. These specialists usually deal with people under house arrest, who are enrolled in a drug court outpatient program, or someone who is pending trial and needs to stay sober for it.

For cases where the person is enrolled in a drug court outpatient program, licensed clinical social workers or certified alcohol and drug counselors perform the role of an addiction recovery coach as the court will require periodic assessments to be done on the person in recovery.

What Are Peer Recovery Programs?

Peer recovery programs are very similar to recovery coaching in form and function but have more components that target specific aspects relevant to a person’s life after recovery and in continuing sobriety. These programs require the recovery coaches in the program to look after the main aspects that are essential to the person’s well-being post-treatment and their ability to become fully functional members of society. These programs typically provide the following:

The stigma that follows a person after rehabilitation is very difficult to deal with. Even with therapy designed to bring back a person’s confidence, many succumb to the subtle discrimination they tend to feel when other people learn that they came from rehab.

The emotional support provided by the recovery coaches could bring back a person’s sagging confidence, while also coaching them with coping mechanisms for instances where they feel discrimination against them.

The transition back to normal and sober life will necessarily require ensuring that a person’s health is maintained. This means the recovery coach should be able to identify accessible community resources that could help a person in keeping fit and healthy so that they feel better about themselves, and also with needed medical or clinical support that knows how best to deal with and treat people in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse.

While these tasks will indeed be initiated by the recovery coach just to get things started, the coach will also ensure that the person in recovery will be able to do this on their own, to fully achieve independence further along their recovery. This is because true sobriety also necessarily requires independence.

Finding work when one is known to have come from rehab could be quite difficult. This goes the same if the person is looking for housing arrangements. There is a general distrust in dealing with people known to have come from a background of alcohol or substance abuse, mainly due to ignorance on the part of those who exercise prejudice.

This is why a peer recovery program considers this and only works with institutions and organizations that recognize the need to give people in recovery a chance to be fully functional members of society once more.

Institutions and organizations with specific commonalities often form affiliations with each other, and in the case of people in recovery, it is part of a peer recovery program to know of these affiliations as they might be the only place where the person in recovery could receive support, safely engage in social activities, and participate in events where they will not be exposed to temptations.

This consideration is receiving more acceptance today, as more people become aware of the special needs of specific people, and how they could contribute to inclusivity efforts so as not to discriminate against anyone.

Walk that First Step Towards Sobriety with LUNA Recovery

The first step is always the hardest. This is particularly true when one is in recovery. The following steps could also prove to be just as difficult, and many would realize that they need support to continue.

We are here to provide that support, as we have provided to so many others who also needed it. Let us help you take that first step toward recovery and sobriety, and any other step you might require support in as well. Talk to us now.