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Recovery Coaches: The Healing Connection

Issue 30

How Recovery Coaches Bridge the Gap in Addiction Treatment

There’s a critical moment when a person asks for help and realizes they can’t do what they’ve been doing anymore.

For people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), support and encouragement are critical to longterm success. Rather than focusing on the devastating effects of addiction, recovery coaches believe in the capacity for self-directed change and encourage paying attention to the strengths that lie within us. A coach focuses on recovery potential, while at the same time meeting people where they are spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Because coaches are non-clinical, the service is not meant to replace a formal treatment program such as counseling, psychological testing, medicated assisted treatment, etc. Rather, coaches are meant to be a part of the recovery team with a goal to help improve quality of life and connect the person in recovery to resources that will help them reach their goals.

There is sometimes a wait for clinical treatment, a coach can bridge the gap with their skills as a motivator and cheerleader. They are allies and confidants, always prepared to actively listen, provide honest feedback, and be a positive role model. They can provide links to the recovery community, explore a multitude of treatment options and other community supports, advocate, and focus on changing recovery language to reduce

negative self-talk and stigma. Working with a coach helps reduce relapse rates, lowers overall substance use, and decreases criminal justice involvement.

The coach may work to remove barriers to success by connecting people to resources such as child care, a good mechanic, stable housing options, programs for professional development, and locating a doctor who understands addiction. They can also help explore options for treatment, employment, and new hobbies, among other services. Coaches also provide a safe, supportive, and confidential space for people in recovery to share their feelings without judgment and without being told how to “fix” themselves. Coaching sessions bridge the gap by allowing the person to receive selfdirected care with a coach advocating for informed choice.

Through the assistance of a coach, many people in recovery have found a sense of belonging to a larger recovery community and are able to get their lives back while being treated with dignity and respect. Coaching helps bridge the gap between professional treatment and sustainable recovery within a client’s natural environment.

Many coaches have successfully overcome their own addictions and are compassionately dedicated to helping others achieve their recovery goals. Using the peer-to-peer model alongside a coach’s personal lived experience grants them unparalleled insight into the many unique challenges someone with substance use disorder faces, and the joy of triumph that comes along with the journey to recovery.

Peer recovery support services can be delivered across a full continuum of recovery, regardless of whether or not a person uses clinical treatment services. They can be offered before an individual enters treatment or when they are waiting for a service opening. They can coincide with treatment services, providing a connection to the community while a person is in treatment. Following treatment, coaching support services help people manage their own recovery by developing recovery skills, accessing resources to support ongoing recovery, and giving them an opportunity to further enrich their recovery.

A key factor that coaches understand is that everyone’s struggle with addiction is unique and so is their recovery process. Coaches demonstrate that recovery is possible.

“I put my hand in your hand and together we can do what we could never do alone.” ~ Unknown

Learn more about recovery coaching, and request a free recovery coach here: https://healthyacadia.org/need-help

Kristé Sprague serves as the Maine Recovery Core Program Director with Healthy Acadia and provides leadership, skills training, professional development, workforce development, supervision, support for data collection, and technical assistance to Maine Recovery Core recovery coaches serving recovery centers and various other settings across, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington counties.

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