The Need For Recovery Coaching

Ask anyone in the drug and alcohol recovery field about the need for a better system of recovery and the answer is universally yes, we can do better. When someone in recovery relapses it is heartbreaking to watch. There are many that have tried different paths in the recovery field to lower the relapse rates of those trying to beat addiction, some have been more effective than others. You can generalize these paths into 2 categories; clinical and spiritual. I am going to tell you as someone who has worked on both sides of clinical and spiritual that both sides have strengths. The main strength of the clinical side is

supervised detoxification from alcohol and benzodiazepines with medical staff on hand to ensure the safety of those who are trying to become sober. The main strength of the spiritual side is providing peer support from those who have successfully rebuilt their lives out of the ashes of addiction.

Many times a recovery coach can help people in need. A recovery coach is someone who can work with anyone in the process of recovery at any stage of the healing process. A recovery coach can be the first point of contact for someone coming out of “clinical” rehab. A recovery coach can also work with someone attending 12 step “spiritual” meetings.  But what exactly is a recovery coach and what do they do? Are they clinical or spiritual? Do they really make a difference? What are the roles of a recovery coach? When should a recovery coach be consulted? First lets define the term and the mindset of recovery in general.

I have heard varying answers to this question From "Well it was the day I hit bottom" to "It starts in step 3" to "When I had my moment of clarity and realized I need to stop doing what I am doing" and a few more.

But to put a finer point on it I think we need to explore the differences in; being in recovery as opposed to thinking I need recovery. We also need to define the difference of; When did my journey of recovery start? As compared to being in recovery officially.

Realizing you need recovery is crucial to your hope of recovering, but realization is just the start of your journey (hopefully). Some people go for years knowing what they are doing is wrong but do nothing to change it. Some of these people come to 12 step meetings, but they are not in recovery. Don't get me wrong it is a great thing that these people are courageously making the journey to attend a recovery meeting.

I know how hard it is to walk through the door when you are the required person to be there, and for the most part the people who do take this step of attending usually do "get it" and start the process of recovery.

Recovery meetings are an important part of recovery; but, just because you attend a meeting doesn't mean you are in recovery, anymore than just attending church makes you a Christian. However being there is a crucial step to take in the journey.

So what is the answer? Quite simply; a person is in recovery when they say they are in recovery. A straightforward declaration but an important step in what it means to the outlook of the individual making the statement.

This declaration is very important and I can think of two distinct parallels to how important a declaration can be.

First look at the birth of our country as a country. We celebrate the day we declared (4th of July) our independence,

“Recovery meetings are an important part of recovery; but,”

not the day we defeated England. On that day we took a stand as a nation that we wanted change, that we were ready for battle.

The second parallel is right out of the Holy Bible in the book of Romans when the apostle Paul talks about being saved. But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom 10:8-10)

A declaration can be the start of something extremely important.

The mindset is priceless. If we are to truly change and make it happen, the words must come out of our mouth “I am in recovery” and when a person makes this statement they also are saying they are ready to fight the battle of addiction.

It is at this point that this recovering person needs help to fight the battle and it is a perfect time to make an appointment with a recovery coach.

So lets define what a Recovery Coach is… ”A person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, links the newly recovering person to the recovering community, and serves as a personal guide and mentor in the management of personal and family recovery. Such supports are generated by utilizing volunteer resources within the recovery community, or provided by the recovery coach where natural support networks are lacking” (William White)

A recovery coach takes on many roles in assisting someone in recovery, some of the important roles are:

  • Motivator and Cheerleader
  • Ally and Confidant
  • TruthTeller
  • Role model and mentor
  • Problem solver
  • Resource broker
  • Advocate
  • Community organizer


A recovery coach is someone who can really make a difference in the recovering persons life. There are other important roles in a persons recovery and I want to be clear that a recovery coach is NOT a

  • Sponsor
  • Counselor
  • Nurse/Doctor
  • Priest/Minister/Rabbi


An effective recovery coach will work with everyone involved in the recoveree’s spectrum of the recovering community.  The coach will many times be the glue that holds the plan together for the recoveree and be the conduit between clinical and spiritual.