When you think about substance use treatment many people often think about many of the traditional ways of treatment. One of the older techniques that is gaining more popularity and recognition for its importance in the substance use disorder treatment field is peer support/recovery coaching. A recovery coach, somebody who has also been in recovery, helps support the many pathways to recovery. This type of support fills an important role in the recovery process.
Recovery coaches use an approach that shows respect to those in recovery, that helps them focus on the now and the future rather than dwell on the past, and to focus on assets rather than deficits. They serve- in a sense as mentors- for those in recovery, performing as a guide, while encouraging those on the recovery path. They do not push their views on the recovering individual. It is a technique that has been used with individuals from many different backgrounds. A recovery coach works helping them achieve reachable goals and learn day to day self care. Early recovery can be daunting. Imagine a person new to recovery, trying to get through each day without the coping mechanism they have used for years. Substances were one thing that they believe worked for them and now they have to relearn how to live without their drug of choice.
Recovery coaches are being recognized more and more as a vital source of support for people in the recovery process. These coaches have had first hand experience with the struggles inherent in early recovery. As peers, they are able to build genuine partnerships with the client and to provide hands on support as the client begins the process of rebuilding their lives and navigating through the challenges that come with recovery. This kind of support helps clients establish meaningful, sober, connections with peers in the community. Coaches work side by side with the person in the community, often in the evenings and weekends when clients are most challenged by loneliness and disconnection. They are able to attend meetings together, process and help clients understand what was said in the meetings, participate in sober social activities, and develop a circle of support that strengthens their recovery.
Recovery coaches approach each client with compassion and understanding while working toward the shared goal of empowering each individual to find their own path. Unconditional support during recovery is vital to the recovering person in moving forward in their life. They can strengthen their recovery by having face to face meetings, daily texts, or phone calls with recovery coaches.
“Unconditional support during recovery is vital to the recovering person in moving forward in their life”
The therapeutic alliance is the foundation of successful treatment. Coaches can help clients develop strong connections in their community. Recovery coaches are NOT therapists, or a replacement for treatment, they do not diagnose or treat clients. They are an important addition to someone who is also in treatment including MAT, counseling, and attending groups. Coaches help the person engage in treatment and focus on non clinical issues like employment, housing, or dealing with probation officers. They also help keep people engaged people who are waiting to get into treatment.
Research has shown that peer recovery support facilitates recovery and reduces health care costs (“Peer Support and Social Inclusion”, 2018). Coaches also provide assistance that promotes a sense of belonging within the community. People with mental health/and or substance use disorders can offer strength and hope to their peers. Peers are positive role models and help clients find ways to contribute, encourage, motivate, make new friends ,and build healthier social networks.
Peer Support and Social Inclusion. (2018, June 05). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery/peer-support-social-inclusion