Addiction treatment takes many forms and is an essential step on the journey to recovery. Substance abuse treatment centers provide many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, along with a variety of therapeutic modalities. When people are struggling with addiction, innovative and effective therapies are available to meet their needs.
Peer coaching programs are a relatively new addition to many evidence-based recovery programs. Peer coaching has emerged as a facet of addiction recovery in several notable hospitals around the country. These coaches may meet overdose patients in the emergency room or be present in outpatient facilities. Recently, locations in Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and several other states have begun offering this service.
Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement, in particular, has worked in the community to provide services for many years. It hires people with addiction experience to function as recovery coaches and help people in treatment find success in sobriety.
Peer recovery coaches are people who have previously struggled with addiction and have had long-term success in sobriety. In addition to medical treatment and mental health therapy, some programs offer recovery coaches as an additional layer of support in addiction recovery. Recovery coaches provide emotional and psychological support. They help with life plans and encouragement.
Peer recovery coaches must meet certain criteria and can be found at:
- Emergency centers
- Substance abuse treatment facilities
Peer coaches provide support in a variety of scenarios. Sometimes, peer coaches will help someone who has visited the emergency room make a decision about entering drug or alcohol addiction treatment. At other times, peer coaches will help with mentoring or sober support during or after treatment. The flexibility and informality of this role can be valuable, as it means that people in many different stages of recovery can receive support.
Peer Coaching vs. Recovery Sponsor
A peer recovery coach is different from a sponsor. A 12-step program for addiction is a traditional group that provides a standard process for addiction recovery support and sobriety. A 12-step recovery program will often provide support in the form of an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor (AA sponsor) or a Narcotics Anonymous sponsor (NA sponsor). According to AA, a sponsor is essentially another person who struggles with alcohol addiction who is further along in their recovery journey. Sponsors provide conversation, accountability and support.
It is possible to have a recovery sponsor as well as a peer coach. These are separate roles that serve different purposes.
Sponsors are available and most present during periods of intensive recovery. In conjunction with a 12-step program, a sponsor is a phone call away and offers emotional support and practical accountability as a free, peer-based service.
Peer coaching is about a partnership. The basis of this is a relationship. A coach’s main goal is to help an individual build a future and focus on forward movement in recovery. A coach helps with lifestyle choices that influence recovery.
Benefits of Peer Recovery Coaching
Addiction recovery requires many layers of ongoing support. From detox to aftercare, it takes significant time and investment to rehabilitate someone from substance abuse. Recovery stories are full of meaningful encounters — including those with peer coaches — where empathy has helped someone’s journey.
Peer recovery coaching has multiple benefits. Peer coaching:
- Can begin before people stop using substances
- Can help people make treatment choices
- Is unprofessional and not intimidating
- Is personal
- Can help with relapse prevention
Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can be a highly personal process. Finding the right connections and the right care is essential to ensuring success. If you or a loved one is living with addiction and is ready to begin treatment that heals, reach out to The Recovery Village today for more information about our programs.
Alcoholics Anonymous. “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship.” June 2017. Accessed July 12, 2019. Maryland Department of Health. “Maryland posts first-quarter 2016 data on fatal overdoses.” June 29, 2016. Accessed July 12, 2019. Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement. “MGH Celebrates Commitment to Community and Equity.” June 4, 2015. Accessed July 12, 2019.
Alcoholics Anonymous. “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship.” June 2017. Accessed July 12, 2019.
Maryland Department of Health. “Maryland posts first-quarter 2016 data on fatal overdoses.” June 29, 2016. Accessed July 12, 2019.
Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement. “MGH Celebrates Commitment to Community and Equity.” June 4, 2015. Accessed July 12, 2019.