A state commission in Massachusetts is recommending that recovery coaches must receive professional licensing. The 15-person commission panel was created as part of an opioid crisis bill signed into law last year by Governor Charlie Baker. Recovery coaches play a valuable part in addiction recovery for many people and are often sent to drug treatment centers, courtrooms, and emergency departments. Under the commission’s recommendation, these coaching roles would be regulated.

Recommendations from the state panel suggest that peer recovery coaches should have experience with addiction themselves. In addition, they should be in recovery for at least two years before they work with patients. Despite the push for regulation through a peer recovery coach certification requirement, there is not currently a board of registration available for recovery coaches.

What Is a Peer Recovery Coach?

A peer recovery coach is still considered an emerging profession in some ways, and much of the demand was created by the opioid epidemic. Peer recovery coaches are one-way people with a substance use disorder can receive the benefits of peer recovery support services. A peer recovery coach provides non-clinical assistance as a person works toward their goal of long-term recovery.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), peer recovery coaches should have experience as well as supervision and training. These services can be used along with or as an alternative to receiving clinical treatment for a substance use disorder. SAMHSA believes the services offer a multifactorial approach to recovery and create other options for clinical treatment.

A recovery coach provides emotional recovery support as well as informational support. Informational support can include connections to referrals and community resources to help promote general health and wellness. A recovery coach may also provide instrumental support by helping people connect with housing or employment. They often provide affiliation support as well by connecting people to activities and events in the community.

The Need for Better Training

Groups in Massachusetts that advocate for recovery coaches feel there is value in more regulated and standardized peer recovery support training. The panel does recommend that some existing coaches who are already certified should not be affected by the new regulation. Their recommendation report also seems flexible in hiring coaches who have the capability to perform in the role but don’t necessarily have two years of ongoing recovery.

While the idea of a recovery coach isn’t a new one, it’s becoming increasingly more common. Health professionals are beginning to rely on them as states like Massachusetts work to combat addiction. The hope with recovery coach training and standardized regulations is that these people can become a more integral part of the health care system.

There are more than 20 states that have recovery coach designations, but training requirements vary significantly between states. Currently, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services does have a five-day recovery coach training program. It certifies coaches to work at medical facilities, including hospitals. To be certified, there is a minimum of at least 60 hours of training required. However, certification isn’t mandatory to work in the state as a recovery coach.

Private insurance companies have been looking at the use of recovery coaches who work alongside health care providers and nonprofit organizations. The lack of standardization in the role is one reason why insurers won’t pay for the services yet. With more focus on training and credentials, however, this hurdle could be overcome.

If you or someone in your life is struggling with a substance use disorder of any kind, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work for your situation.