Recovery Coaches-An Alternative Choice

What Does a Recovery Coach Offer?

A Recovery Coaching establishes a paid-for service relationship where the client is respected as the expert on their life.  The client decides what is worth doing, and the recovery coach provides expertise in supporting the successful change. Recovery coaching focuses on achieving goals important to the client, not just recovery-related goals. The coach asks questions and offers reflections to help the client reach clarity and decide what steps to take. Recovery coaching honors the values and principles of the individual and accountability to help the client stay on track.  The Recovery Coach accomplishes and demonstrates this through the following:

Sober Escort
A sober escort, or travel escort, is a paid sober travel companion or travel escort that accompanies a client to an event, to treatment, or to court, to ensure the client maintains sobriety. Transportation can be a significant challenge to a newly abstinent person. Whether the client is interested in maintaining an ongoing recovery or just needs to stay abstinent for a period of time, getting from point A to point B can be difficult. This version of a recovery coach may be required to transport a person in recovery across town, across the state, or across the county.[4]

Sober Companion
A sober companion or sober coach works full-time with the client: full work days, nights, weekends or extended periods where the coach is by the client’s side 24 hours a day. This long-term option can begin with treatment discharge and may develop into a coaching relationship that continues for several weeks, months or longer.

When returning home from treatment, the client trades a secure, drug-free environment for a situation where they know there are problems. The sober companion may provide the symbolic and functional safety of the treatment center. This coach will introduce the client to 12-step meetings, guide them past former triggers for their addiction, and support them in developing a recovery plan. The sober companion helps the client make lifestyle changes in order to experience a better quality of life in the first crucial days after discharge from a treatment center. Sometimes a recovery coach is necessary to keep a client sober in order to regain custody of a child.

Family Recovery Coach
The family plays an important role for a person in recovery but is often neglected by traditional models of recovery. Specially trained family recovery coaches strive to create a calm, objective, non-judgmental environment for the family of a recovering addict. They are knowledgeable in specific models that help the family cope with the changes that they have gone through living with an active addict or living with a recovering addict. Regardless of an addict’s choices, working with a family recovery coach may help a spouse, partner, or loved ones avoid the mental obsession that plagues many families affected by addiction and learn to lead sane and productive lives.[

Phone or Virtual Recovery Coach
A phone or virtual recovery coaching relationship may be established to continue beyond the face-to-face meeting of a client and a recovery coach. Today, many treatment centers are embracing virtual recovery coaching, and linking phone or virtual recovery coaches with clients prior to leaving treatment, as a way to continue the connection to the treatment center, as well as meeting the guidelines of an aftercare program. Online virtual coaching programs also exist, either fee-based or for free, that will help anyone apply the methods of recovery (e.g. developing a recovery plan and building recovery capital), whether the client has completed a stay at a treatment center or has relapsed many months after treatment.

Legal Support Specialist
Lawyers dealing with criminal drug cases or drug courts sometimes request a type of recovery coaching to ensure a client (perhaps under house arrest, enrolled in a drug court outpatient program or pending trial) stays sober as per the law’s mandate. Recovery coaches with the required certification and legal knowledge are contracted for this purpose. Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists, Licensed clinical social workers or certified alcohol and drug counselors with training in assessments can perform these tasks. The court will request them to perform a client assessment and work with the client on a continuing basis and re-assess after a period of time. The coach will then draft a letter to the court and offer suggested placement in a residential alcohol/drug treatment center, an outpatient treatment program, or a sober living facility. A legal support specialist can also appear in court with the client and provide transportation to or from the courthouse.


What is a Recovery Coach?

A Recovery Coach is a person who promotes recovery and removes barriers and obstacles to recovery, serving as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking or already in recovery from an addiction to alcohol and or other drugs. Unlike Peer Mentors, Recovery Coaches have no requirement to be in recovery themselves; a recovery coach may have knowledge of addiction and recovery perhaps by knowing an addict, having a family member with an addiction or taking courses in the treatment field.  

Recovery coaches are helpful for making decisions about what to do with one’s life and the part addiction or recovery plays in it. They help clients find ways to stop addiction (abstinence), or reduce harm associated with addictive behaviors. Recovery coaches can help a client find resources for harm reduction, detox, treatment, family support and education, local or online support groups; or help a client create a change plan to recover on their own.

Recovery coaches do not provide addiction treatment, do not diagnose, and are not associated with any particular method or means of recovery. They support any positive change, helping persons coming home from treatment to avoid relapse, build community support for recovery, or work on life goals not related to addiction such as relationships, work, or education. Recovery coaching is action-oriented with an emphasis on improving present life and reaching future goals.

Recovery coaching is not therapy;  coaches do not address the past, do not work to heal trauma, and put little emphasis on feelings. Recovery coaches are unlike licensed addiction counselors in that they are non-clinical and do not diagnose or treat addiction or any mental health issues.


More About Recovery Coaches

Recovery coaches encourage (but most do not require) participation in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, or non 12-step groups such as LifeRing Secular Recovery, SMART Recovery, Moderation Management, and Women for Sobriety. They also work with individuals who dislike groups to help them find their own path to recovery.

Niches Within Recovery Coaching
Recovery coaches may work with any type of addict. There are also niches within recovery coaching such as those who work exclusively with families of recovering individuals, or a financial coach who works on rebuilding an overspender’s credit rating. Many specialists work with individuals who have left the prison system and are attempting to rebuild their lives. Some recovery coaches specialize in emotional and financial recovery after divorce.

A few recovery coaches specialize in merging the characteristics of recovery coaching within a life coaching framework. This concept takes into account the often overlooked reality that those in early recovery tend to have unique difficulties in applying the realities of day-to-day living within their new sober lifestyle. Such unique coaching styles are able to span far beyond the recovery component and properly introduce outside influencers, such as family relationships, employment, schooling, and relationships,.

For those requiring a higher level of care, such as medical detoxification for heroin or opiate withdrawal, or 24/7 sober companion and oversight services, there exist recovery coaching firms which specialize in providing what could often be described as an alternative to inpatient or outpatient treatment. Companies like The Addictions Coach and others which have nationwide credentials are able to essentially bring the addiction treatment component to the client, no matter where he or she may be located.

Recovery Coaches may be drug and alcohol counselors, family and marriage therapists, licensed clinical social workers, interventionists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists; they train to be recovery coaches and then add coaching to their resume. Many embrace the coaching approach, and merge the knowledge they have as a clinician or interventionist with recovery coaching methods.

Recovery coaches can be employed by treatment centers or sober living homes and receive compensation from them. In cases such as this, the client is billed for the coaching services from the centers or homes. Some recovery coachs have opened a transitional living home or a supportive sober living environment. They coach the people who reside at these locations and their presence adds to the quality of the recovery experience.

Recovery coaching is not usually covered by insurance – independent health insurance company do not cover the services of a recovery coach working with an individual in recovery from an addiction. Some states are working with medicaide for service coverage, but this is rare and usually a case by case basis in those areas.   

Is A Recovery Coach Right For You?

Recovery Coaches work independently and charge range form $20.00/hour and up, depending upon the licensing and credentialling of the individual.  It is important to note that SAMHSA recognizes value of Peer Mentors (those individuals who are in recovery) as a vital role in recovery.  Recovery Coaches may be from any walk of life, and are not required to be in recovery from substance use themselves.  Training for Recovery Coaches includes focusing on providing individuals with the skills need to guide, mentor and support anyone who would like to enter into or sustain long-term recovery from an addiction to alcohol or other drugs.

One coaching academy prepares participants by “helping them to actively listen, ask really good questions, and discover and manage their own stuff.”  (CCAR Recovery Coach Academy)

Participants will:

  • Describe Recovery Coach role and functions
  • List the components, core values and guiding principles of recovery
  • Build skills to enhance relationships
  • Explore many dimensions of recovery and recovery coaching
  • Discover attitudes about self disclosure and sharing your story
  • Understand the stages of recovery
  • Describe the stages of change and their applications
  • Increase their awareness of culture, power and privilege
  • Address ethical and boundaries issues
  • Experience recovery wellness planning
  • Practice newly acquired skills

Recovery Coaches base on three important points:

1.  Create a road map to cut back or develop a slip/recurrence prevention strategy
2.  Develop a personalized change-plan
3.  Work towards developing self-confidence and self-esteem in this new lifestyle; and look at life beyond substance use, addiction and recovery


Peer Mentors are recognized nationwide as having a vital role in promoting recovery and recovery support. Peer Mentors, or peer support workers are people who have been successful in the recovery process who help others experiencing similar situations. Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer support workers help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.

Peer Mentors complete specific training and adhere to federal guidelines and training, and are currently being used as supports in clinics, hospitals and many addiction treatment organizations.  Because of their unique relationship to their own recovery, many can be considered experts in sober supports, community supports and obtaining services needed.  

Core competencies for peer workers reflect certain foundational principles identified by members of the mental health consumer and substance use disorder recovery communities. These are:

  • Recovery-oriented: Peer workers hold out hope to those they serve, partnering with them to envision and achieve a meaningful and purposeful life. Peer workers help those they serve identify and build on strengths and empower them to choose for themselves, recognizing that there are multiple pathways to recovery.
  • Person-centered: Peer recovery support services are always directed by the person participating in services. Peer recovery support is personalized to align with the specific hopes, goals, and preferences of the people served and to respond to specific needs the people has identified to the peer worker.
  • Voluntary: Peer workers are partners or consultants to those they serve. They do not dictate the types of services provided or the elements of recovery plans that will guide their work with peers. Participation in peer recovery support services is always contingent on peer choice.
  • Relationship-focused: The relationship between the peer worker and the peer is the foundation on which peer recovery support services and support are provided. The relationship between the peer worker and peer is respectful, trusting, empathetic, collaborative, and mutual.
  • Trauma-informed: Peer recovery support utilizes a strength-based framework that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

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