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What is a Recovery Coach?

A recovery coach is like a life coach. However, recovery coaches don't just work with anyone who needs guidance in their lives. They work with people who want to recover from substance use disorders such as alcohol or drug addiction.

Also known as a sobriety coach or a sober companion, a recovery coach offers peer support.

These may be individuals who have already undergone addiction treatment or are still in the process of exploring their treatment options. People who continue to struggle with alcohol and drugs may also seek help from a recovery coach.

What Does a Recovery Coach Do?

Recovery coaches provide support for anyone who wants to recover from substance-related problems. The goal is to help you prevent relapse and stay sober. They will offer guidance and equip you with the necessary tools and skills for achieving long-term recovery.

A recovery coach does this by:

  • Explaining which treatment programs are available to you
  • Helping you create a recovery-oriented plan
  • Directing you to resources for addiction recovery
  • Connecting you with peer recovery support groups
  • Providing assistance in navigating the medical system
  • Teaching you how to be accountable for your actions
  • Helping you develop healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms
  • Showing you how to assess your recovery progress objectively

Who Can Be Coached?

Recovery coaches provide their coaching services to adults and teenagers who are dealing with substance use disorders. Examples include alcohol and drug use, alcoholism, and drug addiction.

Over 19.3 million American adults aged 18 and over have a substance use disorder (SUD).1 Substance use is also increasing among teenagers. By 12th grade, 65.1% of teenagers would have misused alcohol, and 46.6% have tried illicit drugs at least once.2

What Can I Expect From Recovery Coaching?

Recovery coaches are not therapists or counselors. They are non-clinical professionals. If your substance use is somehow caused by psychological trauma, they cannot help you work through your emotions or triggers. 

They cannot diagnose or provide treatment for alcohol use, drug addiction, and co-occurring mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

A recovery coach does not care about your past. Instead, they will use a strengths-based approach so you can focus on recovery goals and find ways to achieve them. 

They may work with you individually or as part of a multi-disciplinary team of medical and mental health professionals. Either way, they will work with you one-on-one and provide personalized care.

Unlike therapists, recovery coaches don’t have an office, and they don’t have regular hours. Their schedule tends to be more flexible, making them more accessible should you need help avoiding relapse.

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Recovery Coaches vs. AA Sponsors 

Recovery coaches and AA sponsors have a few things in common. Both exist to help people with their addiction recovery. 

They also tend to be recovering themselves and have previously battled substance use disorders. Both must be sober for at least a year before they can start helping others. Finally, both ensure that your information is kept private.

Despite their similarities, a recovery coach is not the same as an AA sponsor. Below are their key differences.

Coaching Services vs. Sober Sponsorship

A recovery coach provides evidence-based coaching services for their clients. They work independently outside of any treatment program or institution.

A sober sponsor works exclusively with the same 12-step program that helped them recover from addiction. For example, an AA sponsor offers sponsorship under Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), while an NA sponsor is someone from Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Anyone who wants to recover can seek help from a certified recovery coach. However, only members of Alcoholics Anonymous will have access to AA sponsors.

Recovery Coach Training and Certification

Recovery coaches have to meet certain qualifications. They must also undergo formal training and certification before they can practice. Each state has different certification requirements.3

Here are the basic requirements to become a certified recovery coach:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Holds a high school diploma or passed the GED test
  • Must pass the recovery coaching training and test
  • Must be certified by the state certification board

In addition to these requirements, a person must render hours of community work while under the supervision of a certified recovery coach. This ensures they meet the professional standards for recovery coaching.

No such training or certification is required from sponsors. However, they are also screened by their respective addiction recovery programs before they are recognized as a sponsor.

Addiction Recovery Support

If you hire a recovery coach, you need to meet them at least once a week for support. Those who are still in their first year of sobriety may want to meet more often. Studies show that over 85% of people relapse in the first year of addiction treatment.4

You don’t have to meet a recovery coach in person. Many of them offer virtual recovery coaching. Naturally, you can’t expect recovery coaching to be free. While some provide free programs online, a recovery coach typically charges clients for their services.

AA sponsors provide help for free. However, they usually have limited availability and offer recovery support during scheduled meetings. Some AA sponsors are available 24/7, but since their services are voluntary, you can’t always count on them to be there anytime you need them.

How Much is a Recovery Coach?

It depends. Currently, a professional recovery coach can cost you anywhere between $800 per month to $1,000 per day. The experience of the recovery coach, as well as the level of care provided, will help determine the actual cost of their support services. 

While it seems to cost a lot upfront, it will save you more money compared to relapsing and having to undergo treatment all over again.

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How Effective are Recovery Coaches?

Recovery coaches have previous experience with substance use, and this is exactly what makes their methods work. Based on findings, a peer-based approach in addiction treatment leads to positive results.5 

Benefits of Recovery Coaching

Getting peer support from recovery coaches is associated with reduced substance use, better recovery outcomes, and lower relapse rates. 

People who work with a recovery coach are also more likely to complete their addiction treatment.5,6

Other benefits of working with a recovery coach include:

  • Increased satisfaction with addiction services
  • Enhanced relationship with treatment providers
  • Improved access to peer support services
  • Reduced re-hospitalizations and emergency visits
  • Better housing stability

Is a Recovery Coach Right for You?

Recovery coaching is a good option for individuals who are ready for a proactive approach towards addiction recovery. Having mental and emotional stability is a must since you will be doing half the work while a recovery coach guides you through the process.

People who feel like they're stuck in a rut can also benefit from recovery coaching. So long as you can commit to staying sober, a recovery coach can handle your other needs. 

Recovery coaches can connect you to treatment programs, support groups, and other valuable resources.On a more personal level, a certified and professional recovery coach can help with self-improvement. They can teach you healthy coping skills and behavioral patterns, which help with relapse prevention and long-term sobriety.

Resources

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(1) “2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

(2) “Drug Use Among Youth: Facts & Statistics.” National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.

(3) “Compendium of Recovery Coach Certification Requirements.” RIZE Massachusetts.

(4) “New Findings on Biological Factors Predicting Addiction Relapse Vulnerability.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

(5) “Value of Peers Infographics: Peer Recovery.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

(6) “Lived Experience in New Models of Care for Substance Use Disorder: A Systematic Review of Peer Recovery Support Services and Recovery Coaching.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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