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The Benefits Of Having A Recovery Coach When Leaving Treatment

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

February 28, 2019

Recovery coaches are not therapists, nor do they work specifically to treat drug or alcohol addiction. Instead, they work within a model similar to harm reduction and motivational therapy, assessing and encouraging positive actions toward the aim of a successful long-term recovery. Individuals leaving therapy may benefit from having a recovery coach.

Relapse is a painful process, but it is a process in many cases toward successful long-term recovery. A recovery coach can be invaluable to someone who wants to get free from addiction but may have struggled in the past with relapse. The benefits of having a recovery coach when leaving treatment include a higher rate of success in staying in recovery beyond two years, constant access to someone with the training and understanding of what addiction is and how it affects us, who can walk you through hard-hitting cravings, and they are attuned to the signs of relapse and may be able to help someone get help before relapse occurs.

The more research that goes into drug and alcohol addiction and recovery, the broader the understanding that each individual needs a wide range of support services at every step of their recovery. There is no “one size fits all” in recovery. A recovery coach is not meant to serve as a treatment for drug or alcohol addiction but is one asset in helping an individual move from a place of addiction to a promising future in recovery.

How Is A Recovery Coach Different From A Sponsor Or Peer Mentor?

A recovery coach is different from a sponsor or peer mentor and having one doesn’t mean you can’t also have the other. Though both are similar in their aim in helping you achieve your recovery goals, a recovery coach is a trained, paid professional with an understanding of the tools available for helping someone maintain and achieve recovery. They are also not limited to recovery goals, but any positive goals that will benefit the individual as long as they do not interfere with recovery.

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Is A Recovery Coach A Therapist?

While a recovery coach and a therapist can be similar, a recovery coach focuses more on future goals and ways to achieve those goals, rather than on past events. A recovery coach is also more accessible and available day in and day out.

Like some therapists, recovery coaches do focus on creating a positive foundation for your life on which to base a successful recovery. They encourage the kinds of behaviors, interests, and hobbies that work to reduce the overall harm associated with addiction, limit exposure to drug triggers, reduce the severity of cravings with helpful suggestions, and more. And because they’re more accessible than a therapist, a recovery coach is available when you need them as a preventative measure in avoiding relapse.

What The Research Says About Recovery Coaching

One recent study indicated that individuals who received some kind of post-recovery checkup at regular intervals in the two-years following treatment saw a lower rate of relapse. One study examining individuals who had relapsed previously found that those with recovery coaches stay in treatment, and are 15 percent more likely to remain in recovery at two years, than those who did not have a recovery coach. While 15 percent does not seem like a huge number, for someone prone to relapse, it demonstrates the effectiveness of recovery coaching over regular therapy used without added coaching.

How Do I Choose A Recovery Coach?

Firstly, anyone can call themselves a recovery coach. A real recovery coach will be certified through an accredited organization, they will be professional and willing to answer questions about their background and your options ahead of you paying them for their services, and in many cases, they will have a professional background in addiction recovery, psychotherapy, or a related field.

As with any tool you choose in helping you achieve your recovery goals, how you feel about a person or type of treatment can also influence your recovery success. In some cases, it is best to interview a few recovery coaches before selecting one who works best for you. Also, understand a good recovery coach will challenge you and have your best interest in mind.

How Much Does A Recovery Coach Cost?

A recovery coach can cost anywhere from $300 per month to $1,000 per day, depending on the level of care and coaching required. While this may seem like a lot of money, it can save the added cost of a treatment center or a “bender” should occur. Some recovery coaches will offer a refund after one month if you feel their services are not effective. Others may not. Insurance will typically not cover the costs of a recovery coach.

Questions To Ask A Prospective Recovery Coach

When first interviewing a prospective recovery coach, consider the following:

Does this Recovery Coach:

  • Certified through an accredited organization?
  • Have prior experience in the field of addiction recovery?
  • Offer references from other clients?
  • Offer any kind of refund after the first month?
  • Provide a detailed description of his or her duties as a recovery coach?
  • Provide a list of what fees relate to those services?
  • Willing to work with members of your family?

And most of all, make sure you’re comfortable with a recovery coach before you start. You’ll be spending a lot of time together and It’s okay to shop around and find a person who you feel is a good fit for your personality.

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