For the 15.1 million Americans who struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder every year, the most difficult part of the recovery journey is not just finding the path to sobriety… it’s staying on it. During the first year of recovery, it’s recommended that individuals seek some sort of continued care rather than attempt to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of recovery alone. While there are many options for continued care, hiring a recovery coach is the one that provides the most individualized approach.
Cini Shaw, Executive Director of The Lighthouse Recovery 365, defines a recovery coach as a “trained professional who partners with an individual in recovery to meet them exactly where they are at in their recovery journey.” Although there is no right or wrong time to hire a coach, in Shaw’s experience, the most common times for individuals to do so include the Contemplation Stage and the Preparation Stage of the Transtheoretical Model. Also known as the Stages of Change, this model details the six stages that individuals go through when making an intentional change. During the contemplation stage, individuals are intending to start healthy behavior within the next six months, until they enter the preparation stage, at which point they are ready and looking to act within the next 30 days. In either stage, recovery coaches can help clients discover their desired goals and realize the discrepancy between those goals and their current behaviors.
Viewing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as a chronic disease of the brain, 30-day acute care—while helpful in its own right—is not always enough to keep individuals sober once they reunite with their families, jobs and triggers. As abstaining from alcohol alters the neural circuits of stress and reward modulation for people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), they can experience anxiety, fatigue, increased alcohol cravings and a sensitivity to stress, according to a Yale University journal. Recovery coaches understand that the brain continues going through dramatic changes along the first year of sobriety and can help provide them with support, accountability and encouragement through:
Together, the client and coach will create a plan to achieve short term and long-term recovery goals. Most recovery coaches, including those at Recovery 365, have experienced their own addictions and recoveries, and so they are able to connect with clients on a personal level and more deeply understand what they’re going through. This way, they can help clients adjust to a sober lifestyle and bridge the gap between the safety of inpatient treatment and the temptations that occur in everyday life.
In order to provide clients with continuous and consistent care, while maintaining their independence, coaches can utilize daily check-ins via phone calls or texts. Unlike a sponsor, who is available during set times to listen to the sponsee, a recovery coach is there to provide remote care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Similar to a life coach, a recovery coach is there to ensure that a client is not just going through the motions to stay sober, but healing and developing wellness skills to sustain their recovery along the way. While in-person meetings are typically held two to three times per week, clients and coaches can choose whether to increase or decrease meeting times based on goal progress. At Lighthouse Recovery 365, a recoveree’s internal and external assets are measured using their unique Recovery Capital Scale. This scale helps to evaluates a client ‘s progress based on the growth of their physical capital, which includes health and personal assets; human capital, which is comprised of the client’s skill sets; cultural capital, or the client’s connection to their community; and social capital, which includes social interactions within relationships and the recovery community.
Another resource the Lighthouse Recovery 365 program uses to build client accountability is Soberlink remote alcohol monitoring. Featuring a professional grade breathalyzer, cloud-based web portal and the ability to set personalized testing schedules, the Soberlink system allows individuals to remain conscious of their sobriety progress and share it with their recovery coach.
For Shaw, Soberlink has helped strengthen the client-coach relationship in multiple ways, including:
“I really do believe that this is how we save lives, by being with people and supporting them during this very difficult transition back to home, community, family and work,” Shaw says.
As Shaw describes, part of the importance of a recovery coach is offering support to clients, whether they’re face-to-face or miles apart, and remaining connected on the sobriety journey. Soberlink allows for just that.
“All the little roadblocks, all of those firsts: a family dinner and everyone’s drinking, a business trip, or they’re alone on a plane and the flight attendant asks them if they want something to drink. The thing that is nice about Soberlink is that it helps people get in front of these kinds of things. So, for instance, if I know I’m going to have to test in two hours I may have thought, ‘I would love a drink, but it’s not worth revisiting all of this again.’ It helps to keep people accountable and honest,” Shaw says.
Unlike urinalysis, Soberlink has scheduled tests that help to build structure in the client’s life and real-time Alerts which allow the recovery coach to show support as needed in a timely manner. With state-of-the-art features, such as government-grade facial recognition and tamper detection, clients know that there is no getting around taking a test, which adds an extra layer of accountability to their recovery and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
From outlining goals to building a connection with the recovery coach, the stakes are raised higher with each step taken along the sobriety journey. Not only is this beneficial for individual’s personal growth, it’s also one of the most important single prognostic variables associated with remission from addiction. With a recovery coach at their service and Soberlink within arms’ reach, individuals struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can continue down the route to recovery without looking back.