Would I Benefit from a Recovery Coach?
Prevent relapse with the support of a recovery coach.
Posted October 20, 2020 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
While the terms “recovery coach” and “sober companion” are often used interchangeably, they are actually different services.
A sober companion is someone who lives in at a person’s home or travels with an individual who has recently left or chooses not to go to a residential addiction treatment facility. The client is often someone early in recovery from substance abuse who needs support providing structure to their days.
A recovery coach is someone who serves as a mentor, providing support 2-3 times a week. A recovery coach is akin to a life coach, providing assistance to a client by helping a person clarify goals and identify obstacles that keep them from leading the life they desire. A recovery coach can help a person at any stage of their recovery.
Neither a sober companion nor a recovery coach is a therapist. They do not advise on mental health issues or create a treatment plan for psychological concerns. Rather, they are mentors who have had success in lifestyle change and can help an individual address obstacles to making life changes. For mental health issues, the support of a therapist is advised.
The Need for Support
The Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association have reported that both relapse and overdose death rates have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of particular concern is the increase in opioid overdose deaths, although alcohol use has also increased dramatically. The American Heart Association reports a 16% increase in alcohol use, with higher rates among younger adults.
Life stress in the forms of lockdowns, a severe and prolonged economic downturn, social unrest, and other issues are correlative if not causative factors in creating an increase in substance abuse among Americans. In these difficult times, many people need more help to get into or maintain their recovery.
For those who have relapsed, need support in early recovery, or simply want to improve their lives, hiring a recovery coach may be a healthy option. If you are able to maintain your recovery outside of a residential facility but need assistance reaching goals, a recovery coach might be a good choice.
Here are five areas in which a recovery coach may be able to help you grow.
When we are not responsible to anyone, even to ourselves, it is possible to become lax. We sometimes don’t do the things we know we need to do. By working with a recovery coach, you provide yourself with a source of accountability. You have someone on your team to help you take steps toward achieving your goals. You may uncover a place in your life where you have difficulty holding yourself to task. This could be calling a sponsor, getting to appointments on time, exercising, or eating properly. Whatever your particular issues, a recovery coach may be able to help you become more accountable in your life.
Clarity means to be clear. This is a confusing time. Some of your values may be in conflict. For example, you may wish to attend a large gathering or function but also want to maintain social distancing. A recovery coach may help you tease apart these competing concerns and help you determine which are most important to you. Part of goal-setting, finding clarity will allow you discern what you want in the short and long term.
Once you have clarity on what you want, a recovery coach can help you align that vision with purpose. Purpose is the reason you want to do something or the meaning you ascribe to taking an action. Finding purpose is a process of identifying objectives and motives.
Finding your purpose may also be a process of discarding false narratives that we tell ourselves, keeping us stuck. One common false narrative those experiencing relapse may tell themselves is, “I can’t recover. I have failed too much.” This type of narrative is not only untrue, it’s destructive. A recovery coach can assist you in identifying the limiting beliefs that keep you from creating meaning in your life.
What are the situations, people, or activities that are most important to you? Creating priorities means listing these in order of importance. Prioritizing action steps can be difficult, especially when you have competing needs. You may need to find a new job, clean the house, and help your kids with their virtual classes. How do you choose which to do first? Creating an action plan based on priorities is one way to take some of the stress off, to keep you from becoming overwhelmed by what needs to be accomplished.
When we control our responses to stressful situations, we are self-regulating. However, controlling our emotions and acting in a measured and appropriate manner can be incredibly difficult in early sobriety, especially with the stresses we’re under because of the pandemic. A recovery coach can help you separate your frustration and anger from other emotions. Your coach can give you tips for dealing with overwhelming situations. If your emotional dysregulation is severe, your recovery coach can help you find a therapist to assist you in developing appropriate self-regulation.
Whatever problems you are facing during this pandemic, relapse doesn’t improve the situation. If you are overwhelmed and need additional support to maintain your sobriety, a recovery coach may be a good choice to help you.