What is Recovery Coaching? [2023 Guide]

What is Recovery Coaching? [2023 Guide]

Featured Image

What is recovery coaching? 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost in your journey toward lasting sobriety, you’re not alone. Overcoming addiction is a complex process, and it’s not easy to navigate on your own.

Today, you’ll learn more about addiction recovery coaching and how it can help you overcome your challenges.

Read on to discover what it takes to create a fulfilling life that’s free of addiction.

What is recovery coaching?

So, first things first: what is recovery coaching?

Professional recovery coaching, also known as sober coaching, involves providing one-on-one support to help someone overcome the challenges of addiction and maintain long-term sobriety. It uses a strengths-based approach – the focus is more on one’s strengths and resources instead of solely on deficits (either real or perceived).

Recovery coaching acts like a bridge between early sobriety and a life of lasting recovery. 

The coach and client work together to achieve one goal: 

Creating a fulfilling, authentic life that’s free from any type of addiction.

I know what I’m talking about as a former addict. It all started when I sustained a severe brain injury at the age of 14. Due to the long recovery process that left me feeling incredibly lonely, my life spiraled out of control when I fell into a severe addiction.

But thanks to years of work, I eventually got a handle on my addictions and traumas. 

And having worked with plenty of individuals with severe mental illnesses, I know it’s possible for you, too, to heal. 

There is still limited research on recovery coaching but studies point to the fact that recovery coaching can be helpful in recovery treatment. One study with 1,171 people found that recovery coaching reduced SUD hospitalizations by 44%. Other research shows that accountability is important for recovering adults. 

But first, you need to understand how. That’s what we’ll look at next. 

Recovery coaching x

What does it take to overcome addiction? 

When you’re living with addiction, your brain is wired to focus on one thing: 

Getting its fix. 

Over time, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that once used to matter. 

Even simple tasks like keeping appointments or managing money can feel overwhelming and impossible to handle.

Once you finally make the decision to get clean, you’ll probably find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Sure, entering sobriety would ideally be the final step toward a better life. But instead, you might feel more overwhelmed than ever. 

You see, for years, addiction was viewed as a personal failure. It was understood as a problem of willpower or even moral deficiency. The belief was that if someone was strong and disciplined enough, they could just stop. 

Unfortunately, there are still some people who believe these myths. But science has shown that there is much more at play. Addiction is a debilitating disease that hijacks the brain and alters behavior. 

In other words: 

It’s not a choice and it’s not a weakness. It’s a disease. An extremely complex one at that.

This shift in understanding addiction has important implications. If addiction is a disease, then recovery requires more than just willpower. It requires a comprehensive and holistic approach that addresses these different aspects of addiction: 

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Social 

However, because addiction often starts at a young age, many people in recovery have never learned basic life skills or healthy coping mechanisms. And even for those who did, they might have forgotten them along the way.

That’s where a recovery coach can be an invaluable asset.

Benefits of working with a sober coach

People in recovery have a few options. They might turn to:

  • Friends and family
  • Therapists
  • Coaches 

Relying on friends and family can put a lot of pressure on your loved ones. Plus, they are often not adequately equipped to help others get sober. 

Therapists too can provide support, but they might only have limited availability and work with long waiting lists. 

A certified coach can make all the difference – especially in situations where immediate intervention or guidance is necessary.

But while offering support is a key component of addiction recovery coaching, it’s much more than that.

Coaching is about: 

  • Creating a roadmap for a life of meaning and purpose
  • Helping you identify your goals and passions and developing a plan for achieving them
  • Cultivating a life beyond addiction filled with hope, joy, and fulfillment

So how exactly do recovery coaches help you get there? Let’s take a look. 

What does a recovery coach do?

Professional recovery coaches provide ongoing guidance as you navigate your new sober reality. Here are a few examples of what a good recovery coach can do for you:

  • Explore your personal definition of happiness and fulfillment beyond your addiction
  • Create an individually tailored plan for long-term sobriety that aligns with your unique needs and goals
  • Support you through the inevitable ups and downs
  • Cultivate resilience and overall well-being to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease
  • Offer accountability and motivation to help you stay on track
  • Help you identify potential triggers and how to manage or avoid them
  • Connect you to important resources
  • Help you relearn how to communicate and reconnect with others in a meaningful way
  • Develop coping strategies for dealing with cravings and set up plans to reduce the chance of relapsing

In essence, a recovery coach helps you cultivate the essential life skills and mindset needed for a successful recovery journey while also being there for you when you need them the most.

That said, you might be wondering how recovery coaches differ from therapists – and which one you should choose. Here’s what you need to know. 

What’s the difference between recovery coaching and therapy?

Individual therapy and recovery coaching are not the same thing. In traditional psychotherapy, therapists focus more on the past to try to identify potential traumas that contributed to one’s addiction.

Recovery coaching, on the other hand, relies on a more forward-looking approach to recovery. The past can still be explored to identify current triggers and struggles, but the focus is more on the present and the future to answer the questions: 

  • What do I need right now?
  • And where do I go from here?

Recovery coaches also tend to offer more “hands-on” support, whereas a therapist meets with clients once a week without interaction between sessions. 

The option you choose to go for depends on your individual needs. If you have the possibility to do so, work with both support systems to help you overcome addiction.

What’s the difference between a sober coach and a sober companion?

You might also wonder what the difference is between recovery coaches and sober companions. They share similar traits as sober companions help addicts adjust to life outside of treatment. 

But one key way in which a sober coach and a sober companion differ is in the level and type of support they provide.

A sober companion is generally present round-the-clock. They accompany the client 24/7 to ease the transition into their new routine. This can be especially beneficial for people in the very early stages of recovery who do not have family support.

Typically, sober companions have successfully completed their own addiction treatment. They either volunteer or work for healthcare providers.

Recovery coaches, on the other hand, are certified professionals. They provide more intermittent support and work with the client to develop the necessary strategies and skills to maintain sobriety. 

Now that you know what recovery coaching is, let’s explore how they help you get sober. 

Sober coaching in action: How to navigate recovery 

Deciding to get sober is a monumental step. It takes courage, commitment, and a willingness to get started. 

But it’s the first step in a long journey. Here’s what you need to know about successful and sustainable sober coaching. 

Coping with daily life challenges in sobriety

There are plenty of challenges to sobriety. You may feel overwhelmed, and the many potential financial, social, and relational barriers can make this initial period incredibly trying. Especially because you’re no longer seeking solace in your previous addictive tendencies.

These are some of the most common obstacles in early sobriety:

  • Alcohol and drug triggers 
  • Fears 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Financial instability
  • A lack of independence
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Feeling isolated
  • Professional challenges
  • A lack of purpose and fulfillment
  • Feeling directionless and lost

Together with a recovery coach, you’ll identify which aspects are currently holding you back. This is in part how a sober coach can help people recover from addiction – by paying close attention to the missing pieces in your life and helping you improve upon them.

Building strong and healthy relationships during sobriety

After rehab, cultivating new connections and strengthening old ones can be incredibly enriching. But what is the quality of these relationships? 

Will they aid your new life of sobriety? Or will they serve as a barrier?

An addiction recovery coach can help you explore your interpersonal needs and desires. By taking a closer look at the factors that make a relationship healthy, you can uncover what might still be missing from your life, such as mutual support, clear boundaries, or compassion.

Besides improving your interpersonal relationship-building skills, recovery coaching can also help you create a healthier relationship with yourself. After all, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of all. 

Overcoming challenges and setbacks in sobriety

Recovery involves continual growth, but that doesn’t mean that progress will be linear. 

Change is a process, not an event. Building habits and creating a new way of living takes time. Even with the best intentions and strong willpower, it’s not uncommon to fall back into old patterns. Facing these situations unprepared can make bouncing back from them even harder.

One major benefit of working with a recovery coach is that you have someone by your side who helps you identify potential triggers before they arise. 

Of course, while being prepared is crucial, it’s just as important to know how to manage setbacks without losing all hope and giving up entirely. This is where effective coping mechanisms come in – something recovery coaches can help you with. 

Recovery coaching x

Over to you!

There you have it! Now you know what recovery coaching is. 

Maintaining sobriety is a complex journey that requires ongoing support, motivation, accountability, and guidance.

While setbacks are inevitable, sober coaching can help you navigate the challenges of recovery and establish a strong foundation for long-term success.

Want help with your recovery process? 

Read more about my recovery coaching program here!

About the author

Rose Chant
Rose Chant
Rose Chant is a certified addiction recovery coach with years of experience as a mental health worker. Rose started her recovery coaching journey after overcoming her addiction in 2015. She lives in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, Canada, with her family.
If you are still trying to decide if you are ready to take this next step, schedule a FREE 60-minute call, and we can talk about it. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.