A ‘Recovery Coach’ Can Be a Game Changer. Here’s How

There are coaches for football, singing and life. Why not recovery? A coach can be the X factor that helps you become an all-star of sobriety

October 4, 2023
Woman and man clasping fists

Recovery from addiction is not a game, of course. But much like baseball or chess, it can be a little tricky to figure out if you’re just learning it. And much like rugby or ballet, you can improve at it by getting the right equipment, practicing certain skills, identifying your strengths and working on your weaknesses. This is where a coach comes in, and a recovery coach can help you become your best self, sober.

A recovery coach wears many hats. But to give a broad definition of the role, the coach is someone who provides you with answers and information about what to expect from your ongoing recovery, as well as support, encouragement and accountability.

A coach is a certified, qualified professional in addiction recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes coaches this way: “Peer recovery coaches walk side by side with individuals seeking recovery.” They can’t recover for you, but they’re there to “help people to create their own recovery plans and develop their own recovery pathways.”

A coach’s guidance can significantly increase the chances of a sustained recovery and smooth the path toward a life of promise and fulfillment.

If that sounds like something you or someone you love might benefit from, learn more about connecting with a recovery coach.

How Can a Recovery Coach Help? Tell Me More

A recovery coach provides one-on-one support and resources to individuals in treatment for addiction, in early recovery and throughout the recovery journey. You can enlist one whenever you want, for as long as you want. The coach, remember, is a certified pro: someone trained and educated to offer unique services to people recovering from substance use disorders (SUDs).

You can rely on a coach to act as a role model, mentor, advocate and motivator throughout recovery. A few specific things a recovery coach can help you with in early sobriety:

  • Finding a detox program and treatment facility
  • Avoiding a return to use (aka relapse) and creating relapse prevention strategies
  • Finding sober housing if you don’t have a safe place to stay
  • Coping with everyday challenges during treatment and aftercare
  • Researching and identifying professional counselors or outpatient treatment programs, so you can have continued professional care after you leave inpatient treatment
  • Getting recovery education, support and inspiration, starting with treatment and continuing into longer-term recovery and sober life. This support is always tailored to suit your needs
  • Identifying your personal goals, strengths and weaknesses in your recovery, as well as any barriers to recovery that you feel may exist
  • Developing a plan to help you sustain your sobriety and create the sober life of your dreams
  • Communicating with family members, as a go-between
  • Establishing yourself in a recovery community where people who are in recovery themselves can guide and mentor you, allowing you to learn from their experiences. This may include helping you engage with support groups such as AA, NA, CA or other 12-step programs

When you attend these meetings and make connections in these communities, you’ll be surrounded by support, enthusiasm and accountability as you start your journey into sober life.

Basketball player dunking

A few more things your coach can help you with as you settle into sober life:

  • Identifying and connecting you to resources that can help you maintain your sobriety. These may include educational, vocational, social, cultural and spiritual resources
  • Navigating the challenges of returning to work or school, sober
  • Guiding you as you rebuild the relationships that have been affected over the years, both personal and professional
  • Most anything else recovery-related: A coach will maintain contact by phone and email and be available to you as needed throughout your coaching

In short, no matter where you’re at in your recovery journey, a coach can help you reach the next stage.

Coaches can also bring significant value for people in marginalized or low-income communities who are navigating recovery. According to recent research published in PLOS One, “Peer recovery coaches, individuals with lived substance use experience and who have gone through the recovery process themselves, may be uniquely suited to address the barriers faced by low-income, racial/ethnic minority individuals with SUD.”

Who Can Be a Recovery Coach?

Anyone can train to become a recovery coach. However, people who have gone through addiction and recovery themselves often have a deeper, firsthand understanding of what it’s like for you. Certified coaches also have detailed knowledge and expertise about all aspects of addiction recovery, including the drug and alcohol treatment process.

In addition to certification and lived experience (if you prefer that), look for a coach with:

  • A drive to help others lead healthier and happier lives
  • Training and education in both addiction recovery and mental health

Recovery coaches come from all walks of life, and each has a unique background and perspective. You may want someone who can level with you on certain challenges because they’ve lived them, someone who’s particularly plugged into local resources or someone who’s an encyclopedia of all-around recovery knowledge.

The good news is that plenty of coaches are available. You can easily find one who fits your needs.

Clinch Success in Your Sober Journey With a Recovery Coach

You’ve gone through a lot to get to the place you’re at today. Beating addiction is a tremendous win that takes heart, grit and courage. But achieving and thriving in long-term recovery is always the ultimate goal, and no two people take the same path to get there. A coach can help you recognize the progress you have made and identify areas where you can continue to make positive changes.

Coaches will guide you, advise you and help you see that recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is possible, sustainable — and empowering.

Recovery coaching can support your continued sobriety in all kinds of ways. To name a few:

  • Ensuring you remain accountable for your actions
  • Helping you recognize maladaptive — or at least counterproductive — thoughts, beliefs or behaviors
  • Giving you the space and time you need away from people in your life, even loved ones if necessary, to heal and make certain changes
  • Providing compassionate support and encouragement during challenging moments in recovery

A coach is there to inspire you to do the right things in the healthiest ways possible, moving you forward in your recovery. Like sports coaches, recovery coaches can point out mistakes you may have made in the past and provide a game plan for how to do better in the future. You can rely on your coach to be upfront and honest with you about this stuff.

In addition to being a valuable member of your support system, a recovery coach is also a resource. Need to know more about treatment and what comes after? Coaches can provide details about everything from medically assisted detox to aftercare planning and case management. Ask them questions, express your concerns and get relevant information you can use to make informed decisions about your health and future.

How Is a Recovery Coach Different From a Sponsor or a Counselor?

A recovery coach is not a licensed clinical professional nor a peer sponsor from a 12-step support group. But you may come to trust a coach and value their mentorship in a similar way.

Not all coaches have personally gone through the recovery process — but many have. Coaches are not medical professionals — but many are very well versed in recovery and mental health, and some have counseling experience. If you do need a sponsor or a therapist, a coach can help you find one.

Ultimately, the role of a recovery coach isn’t best defined by what it’s not. Because, as you now know, a recovery coach can be many things to you in recovery. Above all, your coach will always be in your corner.

Call us at 1-866-417-6237 or contact us here to get more details about recovery coaching, and start living your best sober life!

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