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The Role of a Peer Recovery Coach

Issue 29

By Audra Stewart

I just don’t know how to stay sober,” is something that I’ve heard a lot during my time as a peer recovery coach. My response always is, “with the right support around you, anything is possible. Just please be patient with yourself.”

From there we hit the ground running.

When someone has decided that they want to explore a life of recovery, I want to be the one there to go through the journey with them. Many times, our first meeting will be an opportunity for casual conversation, the “getting to know one another” phase. Building a sense of comfort and trust right from day one will create a strong foundation for this vital relationship.

Over time, our meetings will progressively deepen, and when a person knows that they are in the company of someone that has shared life experiences, it is much easier for them to open up and share more about themselves and how they would like to explore their recovery.

Some conversations may be challenging, but as a coach that has been through it, I know how important and helpful it is to have someone there to listen. I might find myself crying alongside them, but through the tears we shed, I remind them that I am here for them no matter what has happened or what the future holds. “Addiction is letting go of everything for one thing, and recovery is letting go of one thing for everything.”

When someone is in early recovery it is important that they know that some days may be difficult, however with support, recovery is possible! Through the coaching relationship, they will gain skills and tools that may make their lives easier, and lessen their desire to use substances each and every day.

On days that folks may be struggling, I am there to remind them of the skills they have learned, and how to use them. I will encourage and continue to support them, provide linkage to resources, and to encourage them to seek out meetings if that is the path of recovery they have chosen. I am there to listen to the challenges and to celebrate the successes, all while walking alongside them on their recovery journey.

The consequences of relapse can be devastating. The support of a peer recovery coach, and connection to a recovery community and resources can offer change and encouragement in powerful ways. Staying connected to people who are supportive of their decision to stay away from self-destructive/compulsive behaviors is important.

Peer recovery coaches understand the nature of substance use, and can help someone make positive connections to many resources that may result in change. I have been humbled by my relationships with the individuals that I have served over the years.

I have been with several people when they have gotten a job, found a place to live, had children, graduated from drug treatment court, and many more life wins. But I have also been on the receiving end of a phone call telling me that someone I coach has either overdosed or died by suicide. A little piece of me is lost when that happens.

I love being the solid and balancing force in someone’s life. I love watching the glow in their eyes when they achieve a goal they set for themselves. And most of all, I love seeing them discover their own self-worth. It is at that moment that I realized that I’ve made an impact. My role as a recovery coach is both challenging and fulfilling, while living my life without the need for substances.

Healthy Acadia
Healthy Acadiahttps://healthyacadia.org/
Healthy Acadia is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works on a broad range of community health initiatives that help Hancock and Washington counties thrive. Since 2001, they have worked to identify priority health needs and to address root causes. They convene and facilitate numerous collaborative community efforts with shared leadership from many sectors to develop plans and take action to improve health and well-being and to rapidly respond to critical and emergent health needs in our communities. The scope of Healthy Acadia's work encompasses six areas: Strong Beginnings to support healthy development and resilience from birth to adulthood; Healthy Food for All to ensure that all people have access to nutritious, affordable food, and to make the healthy choice the easy choice; Active and Healthy Environments to ensure that our indoor and outdoor spaces are safe, healthy, and promote physical activity and wellness; Healthy Aging to ensure that all of us can age well — with strength, dignity, comfort, and grace; Substance Prevention and Recovery to support people of all ages to live lives free of substance misuse and substance use disorder, and to support individuals throughout their recovery journey; and Health Promotion and Management to improve community supports across a wide range of health needs, from cancer patient navigation and stress reduction to barrier removal for health challenges and chronic disease and pain self-management.

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