Recovery can be a hard path to walk. When your addiction has been such a big part of your life, figuring out how to live without it can be very daunting indeed. Even if you know that it was going to kill you. Or if you have had enough of recovery to know it feels better. There can still be challenges to overcome. There will still be moments the lure of oblivion, or the call of the craving feel too powerful.
It can be hard to find the support you need, particularly if your social circle was entirely built around your addiction. Or they don’t understand what you go through in your addiction. This can leave you feeling very isolated.
And isolation is a dangerous thing in recovery. We need connection to help us get through those tough times. We need to know that we are supported and valued so that we can begin to support and value ourselves.
A recovery coach can help with this. But what is a recovery coach, and how do they help you get and stay on track with your recovery?
A recovery coach is a trained professional who is there to support you in your recovery. They are not a sponsor, a counsellor, a therapist or a medical professional. You might need to work with some or all of these people in your recovery. But your recovery coach differs from all these.
Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) has defined 10 roles of a recovery coach. These roles cover a wide spectrum of needs that you will have as you travel along your recovery pathway.
Motivator and cheerleader
Your recovery coach will help you celebrate the wins, and find the small successes on your recovery path. Recovery is a journey, not a destination, so it is important to find the positives in every day, rather than waiting for some ‘milestone’ to celebrate. Your recovery coach will help you remember your why, to keep you focused on your goal, and will believe in you, even on the days when you don’t believe in yourself.
While they won’t be claiming to be some sort of zen guru like picture of recovery perfection, your recovery coach will be a role model you can respect. One of the key responsibilities of being a recovery coach is “managing your own stuff”. This means that a recovery coach will look after their self care, check in with their values, regulate their emotions, seek support both personally and professionally, and, if they are in recovery themselves, model healthy recovery strategies. They will never tell you what you should do, but they will be able to give you inspiration through their own life.
Ally and confidante
We all need friends we can rely on, that we can trust, and share our worries with. And sometimes it is much easier to do this with someone who isn’t intimately connected with our life. Who didn’t know us in recovery, who doesn’t have a whole heap of pre-existing ideas about who we are based on how we behaved in addiction.
Your recovery coach will be that friend for you. They are on YOUR side. Everything they do is for you. Sometimes that might mean telling you tough truths, or holding you accountable for promises you make to yourself. And that might not feel good, but it will always be done for your benefit.
They will keep your business, unless there is ever a safeguarding reason to share anything. You know that you can trust your recovery coach, they are 100% there for you.
A good friend will always tell you the truth, and won’t sugarcoat reality. And the same applies to a good recovery coach.
We all have our blind spots about ourselves. And in recovery, we can be very good at missing some important details about our lives. That’s not that the truths your coach will be telling will always be ‘bad’ things about you. In my experience, it’s more likely you’re going to struggle to see your strengths, your gifts and your progress. Sometimes we need someone else to tell us how fucking awesome we are, especially if we are used to looking at ourselves through the haze of shame and self-loathing.
You can trust your recovery coach to tell you what you need to know, or to help you work it out for yourself. They want you to succeed, and will do all they can to support that.
While they won’t solve your problems for you, your recovery coach will be able to help you work through life’s challenges and find solutions. They can help you reframe challenges, and might be able to see solutions that you can’t see from the centre of the hurricane. They will help you identify the steps you need to take, and break them down into small enough steps that you can manage them.
Whatever you need on your way to rebuilding your life, your recovery coach will be able to help you find it. From finding the right forms to fill in, finding a therapist or medical care, to inspirational reading and career changing training, your recovery coach will help you find the resources, the people, the places you need to create the life you want to live.
Although recovery coaching is about supporting you to find and use your own resources to create your recovery, sometimes you need someone to fight in your corner with and for you.
Your recovery coach will support you and walk alongside you as you put your life in order, and will fight alongside you when you need them to.
Recovery is a community effort, and we need to advocate for ourselves, for those around us, and for the community as a whole. When we stand up for ourselves and one another, we all become stronger.
It’s amazing how often we don’t realise what resources are available to us in our community. You might know what you need, but not know where or how to get it. Your recovery coach will likely know where you can look, know the right person you can speak to, or know how to go about finding them. Recovery coaches trained by Recovery Coach Academy are part of a large community of recovery coaches and allies, and will almost certainly be able to help you find the people and resources you need.
If you’re new to recovery, it can be hard to imagine what life could be like, never mind actually creating that life. You may need to create a new social life, find new hobbies, find work, explore education, new wellbeing practices and much more. You may need to find new ways to relate to family and friends, and new ways to be with yourself.
Your recovery coach can help with this. They can help you work out your goals, your strengths, your values. They can work with you to break down your goals into manageable steps and support you as you take those steps.
The life you want is entirely within your reach, and your recovery coach can help you get there!
Friend and companion
As you may have gathered, a recovery coach is a friend. While they will be professional in their approach to their work, the relationship between you will be built on care, respect, non-judgement and connection. They will support you, encourage you, guide you, and listen to you. They will hold you to high standards because they know that you deserve to hold yourself to high standards. They will believe in you fiercely, and always act in your best interests.
Addiction can warp and damage relationships, so your recovery coach will be there to remind you that you are worthy of love and care, and that you deserve friendship and connection.
Do you need a recovery coach?
If you feel that you could use a friend, a truth-teller, a cheerleader, problem solver, ally, role model or anything else a recovery coach has to offer, I could be the person for you. I have been in recovery since October 2014, and have lived experience of a number of mental health and other challenges, besides my addiction. I have ADHD, and understand that neurodivergence can add other challenges to your recovery.
If you’d like to explore if we might be a good fit, please schedule a free virtual coffee so we can get to know one another. I can’t wait to meet you!