Have you recently come back from treatment and found that you are struggling to maintain your sobriety? Do you feel like you might be slipping back into addictive behaviors? If so, a sober companion could be the answer you’re looking for. Sober companions or coaches are individuals who are employed to ensure people who are attempting recovery remain, or get, sober.
Often far down the path of recovery themselves, sober companions can guide individuals who have just left treatment onto the path of sobriety. Companions can assist those struggling to come to terms with the need to attend treatment, or those needing help to continue with sobriety once they have left a treatment facility and realized that there are still plenty of triggers in the real world. Sober companions assist those struggling to adjust to sober life and are there to offer support while helping them make the healthiest possible life choices after leaving rehab. A sober coach will assist any individual entering or leaving treatment, or at any other stage of the rehabilitation process; even taking on longer term assignments with clients who may be working or living in more remote areas where there is little to no support for sober living.
Why would you need a sober companion? This is a question many people ask when leaving treatment. Regardless of how life changing and informative treatment can be, often the stresses and pressure of reentering real life can prove too much for many people. We have heard a number of times that, in spite of excellent treatment, people still feel compelled to use when leaving a treatment facility.
The journey to sobriety can be fraught with difficulties, with many potential temptations causing a possible relapse back into addictive behaviors. The majority of sober companions have already embarked on the road to recovery themselves, and generally will have a long history of sobriety. They have been there before and know the challenges posed by recovery in the outside world.. While you may feel fully in control of an addiction following treatment, it is very easy to slip back into addictive behaviors, especially when continuing to socialize with the same group of friends, living in the same area, or returning to your same routines. A sober companion will evaluate behavior, keeping an eye out for anything potentially off kilter, while encouraging the client to utilize some of the healthy habits you will have learned in treatment.
The role of sober companion can last anywhere from a few days to a few years; this is purely dependent on where the client is on their journey to sobriety – for some it may only be a matter of days or weeks, for others they may be a few years into either sobriety, or trying to achieve sobriety and just need that extra help. Engagement will typically last for 30 days or more. Both the length and the intensity of the role will vary according to the individual’s unique addiction and subsequent mental health requirements.
The two most common models that sober companions utilize when assisting individuals on the road to sobriety, or helping maintain sobriety, are the abstinence based recovery model and the harm reduction model.
The abstinence recovery model, or ABM, is a philosophical approach to sobriety that focuses on the process of abstaining or avoiding engaging in addictive behaviors or substances. This approach employs a rigid structure with very little room for flexibility. Strategies such as the 12-step program are solely based in this philosophical approach to addiction and it is known to be particularly effective in dealing with the most intense forms of addiction that compromise an individuals health, such as opioid addictions and cases of extreme alcoholism.
Harm reduction, on the other hand, is a practical set of strategies and ideas that aim to alleviate and reduce some of the negative effects and consequences of substance abuse. The ultimate end goal of this recovery model is again abstinence, however the means to which this is achieved are markedly different. Accepting, rather than rejecting, relapse fundamentally underpins this recovery model and reaffirms the idea that individuals themselves have a real voice in the formulation and implementation of such policies. The approach also acknowledges different socio-economic factors that influence an individual’s susceptibility to relapse in the future, allowing for a greater level of flexibility in recovery.
In the majority of cases, clients will either employ a sober companion to accompany them after finishing an in-house residential treatment program, or to facilitate sobriety in their day-to-day lives. To ensure sobriety our companions will liaise with the clients, doctors, psychiatrists and physicians to ensure that the client remains focused on the road to recovery; accompanying clients to treatment facilities and ensure they check-in to the relevant treatment facilities if needed.
Due to the nature of addiction it is essential sober companions are trained and armed with specialist knowledge. With such a high rate of relapse among individuals leaving treatment, it is vital sober companions are able to deal with any eventuality that may arise. Relapse isn’t failure but it can often feel like it is. More importantly however, relapse can be fatal.
A spontaneous relapse into addictive behavior must never feel like a failure, however the ramifications of overdosing can be catastrophic for the family and unfortunately, often fatal for the individual. We are acutely aware of how difficult the transition from treatment to home is and, as a specialist in addiction treatment and mental health issues, we also know the difficulties our clients face making this journey. Stressful events in day-to-day life, post-rehab, can often cause individuals to make bad decisions leading to relapse. With the presence of a sober coach, a client will be able to mitigate the effects of these minor lapses of control.
If you are a loved one, trying to decide whether you need to employ a sober coach for when your family member comes out of treatment, remember – using a sober companion means that you keep the accountability back in the hands of your loved ones, while in turn allowing someone to guide them to become more productive, positive and an active member of society.
Due to the unregulated nature of the industry it is essential that you employ a diligent approach when finding a sober companion. At Heather R. Hayes Associates Inc, our approaches to sobriety, along with the blend of methods that we use, ensure our clients have the best opportunity to remain sober and continue on the path to recovery.