What is Recovery Coaching or Addiction Life Coaching?

Addiction life coaching, also known as recovery coaching, is a form of strength-based behavioral health support for someone who has a substance use disorder or is in recovery. It’s a way to change a person’s life by altering their thought process. Professional recovery coaches help an addict to make better life decisions and spend less time struggling. They can assist in many different facets of recovery, such as detox, harm reduction, addiction treatment, and gaining the support of family members and loved ones.

Recovery Coaching For Addiction Treatments

If you or your loved one has begun treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, you already know that the recovery journey is now a lifelong one. It isn’t a one-and-done stint at rehab and an effortless path forward. In fact, the first 90 days to six months after receiving treatment is when the newly-sober are the most vulnerable to relapse.

Clearly, ongoing encouragement and support is warranted. Here’s where recovery coaching and an addiction recovery coach can prove not only beneficial but vital in the ability to live a meaningful, purposeful life in recovery.

What does an addiction Recovery Coach Do?

The concept of coaching is probably familiar to most people because of their interest in or experience with sports. A coach helps individual team members achieve personal goals, as well as strategizing and putting together a plan to help guide and motivate the team as a group. The same principles apply to a recovery coach and the benefits that recovery coaching offer.

Beyond the overarching goals of the recovery coach to assist those who desire to achieve and maintain sobriety, however, there are specific characteristics and skills to look for in an addiction recovery coach. An effective recovery coach:

  • Will always be available 
  • Holds you accountable
  • Will be in contact with family members
  • Assists you in goal setting and achievement

Types of Addiction Life Coaching

Addiction life coaches deal with:

  • alcoholics
  • drug addicts
  • gamblers
  • sex addicts
  • kleptomaniacs
  • any number of other types of addictive behaviors

They also work with people who have just left jail and need help adjusting to life outside while overcoming their criminal addiction. Recently divorced people or over spenders benefit from addiction life coaching, by gaining the skills to recover financially and fix their credit.

What Happens Through Recovery Coaching?

Addiction life coaching touches many aspects of an addict’s life. Discussing important issues with someone whose opinions are completely unbiased can impart a new outlook and provide perspective into what really matters. People who have worked with addiction life coaches report gaining a whole new awareness of the world around them. They are amazed that suddenly, everything they do seems charged with purpose. And know what they will and will not tolerate, and begin making choices that lead to greater mental health and happiness. They also begin to realize that life should be taken seriously and bad decisions have consequences. With these new skills, recovery can mean being able to enjoy life more fully.

Recovery Coach vs Substance Abuse Counselor

While both a recovery coach and a substance abuse counselor have the aim of helping you with sobriety goals, and there are nuances and some overlap, there are crucial differences to note as well.

A substance abuse counselor:

  • Is part of the treatment team and interacts with clients during the treatment phase.
  • Facilitates the start of recovery once the client indicates a readiness and willingness to change.
  • Interaction with the client has a beginning, middle and end – during treatment.
  • Creates a professionally-directed treatment plan.
  • Location of interaction is generally in a treatment facility (institution) or office-based.
  • Are formally educated and institutionally credentialed – i.e., licensed and credentialed.

A recovery coach:

  • Generally, enters the picture after treatment has concluded, typically during the aftercare or continuing care part of an overall treatment program.
  • Is actively involved in motivational enhancement strategies to motivate a recommitment to recovery.
  • On an ongoing basis, facilitates a client-centered recovery plan that includes lifestyle changes considered crucial for successful long-term recovery.
  • Uses his or her own recovery story to help connect to the stories of others and recovery’s reality and power.
  • Offers guidance to the newly-recovered on how-to live-in recovery.
  • Interaction with the recovered individual continues for months and even years after treatment concludes.
  • Interaction occurs in the recovered individual’s environment, generally neighborhood or even home-based service.
  • Experiential knowledge and expertise form the basis of the recovery coach’s legitimacy and credibility.


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