The Role of a Recovery Coach: How Does Recovery Coaching Work?

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People who struggle with addiction often isolate themselves from friends and family, have a difficult time developing meaningful relationships, and avoid those who care about them so they can continue using substances without interruption. Recovery, on the other hand, is all about connection – connection with oneself, with others, and, sometimes, with a higher power.

When individuals enter treatment and begin recovery, they meet other people along their journey who all play unique roles in their sobriety. For example, someone who goes to rehab will have a primary therapist, a doctor, and a sober support group. Someone who participates in 12-Step fellowships will have a sponsor and a sponsorship family. Another lesser-known supportive role in the recovery process is known as a recovery coach.

A recovery coach, also known as a sober coach, is someone recovering individuals enlist to help them navigate the early days, weeks, and months of sobriety. They are not a therapist or doctor nor are they a sponsor. Instead, sober coaches have specialized training that allows them to support recovering individuals by connecting them to resources in the community and providing expert guidance.

What is a Recovery Coach?

A recovery coach, or sober coach, is someone whose job is to support recovering individuals in the pursuit of their goals. While a substance abuse counselor can help patients identify underlying issues and work through mental and emotional difficulties, a recovery coach’s focus is on the person’s path forward. They do not focus on addictive behaviors or maladaptive coping mechanisms. They simply help facilitate the recovery process by holding individuals accountable and adding an extra level of support.

A sober coach can wear many hats. Some of the responsibilities of a recovery coach include:

  • Helping individuals plan their weeks and how they will spend their free time
  • Directing individuals to resources in the community like 12-Step meetings, job fairs, volunteer activities, or mental health resources
  • Using their personal experiences and insight to provide guidance and support
  • Helping people navigate the medical system including paying medical bills, taking care of insurance, and settling outstanding bills
  • Helping recovering individuals develop a resume, prepare for interviews, and secure employment
  • Celebrating recovery milestones with individuals and pointing out their progress to keep them motivated
  • Offering harm reduction services for existing addictive behaviors
  • Providing advice or guidance on solving daily problems
  • Overseeing a person’s participation in outpatient or MAT programs
  • Helping with aftercare and relapse prevention planning

Recovery coaches help individuals figure out the little details in their recovery that may not be addressed during rehab. As a result, a sober coach can be a major asset in the recovery process.

How a Recovery Coach Can Help With The Challenges of Early Recovery

Recovery coaching is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy and other treatments like medication. It can provide guidance to recovering individuals who struggle to navigate the ups and downs of early sobriety.

Leaving rehab is never easy. While in treatment, individuals have their schedules made for them and are subject to 24/7 supervision. In other words, all of the important decisions were made for them – all patients have to do is listen to staff and participate in therapy. After rehab, however, recovering individuals have to learn how to hold themselves accountable and develop a routine that works for them. This is where a recovery coach comes in.

A sober coach meets with clients on a daily or weekly basis. They may also do remote meetings via video chat. Some recovery coaches even make themselves available 24/7 via text. However, the most common use of recovery coaching is in the form of weekly meetings.

The first meeting is when the coach gets to know the client’s history with substances and their goals in recovery. From there, the coach helps the client create a step-by-step process for attaining their goals. If a person’s goal is to attend four 12-Step meetings each week, the recovery coach will help them pick out specific meetings to attend on a schedule that works for them. Finding these resources without help can be confusing at first, but recovery coaches are familiar with meetings in the area, so they are the perfect person to get help from.

After the first meeting, clients meet with their coach to continue checking in on their progress. Ultimately, a sober coach is a person’s go-to for support or guidance when it comes to everyday activities and decisions.

Find a Recovery Coach in New Jersey

There are many different aspects to the treatment and recovery process. A recovery coach brings together all of the ideas supported by rehab to help individuals prevent relapse and thrive in their sobriety.

If you have completed rehab or are currently in an outpatient program, a sober coach can help you connect with resources in your area, develop a routine that works for you, and be successful in your recovery journey. Here at New Jersey Interventions, our dedicated addiction professionals can connect you with treatment and recovery resources across New Jersey. Contact us today for all of your addiction recovery needs.

Medically Reviewed: June 17, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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