Going into recovery on your own can be a difficult and often intimidating process. Leaving a residential addiction treatment program and going back into the world on your own is often more so, simply because many people often go from a safe and very well supported environment back into the same situation where they were addicted or using in the past. Sober companions or recovery coaches are one solution used by many to ease the transition process between starting recovery and reacclimating back into life.
While sober companions are not the right choice for everyone, they can be extremely helpful in your recovery. Learning about what a sober companion is, what they do, and how they help can guide you in making a meaningful decision for your own recovery.
What Does a Sober Companion Do?
A sober companion is essentially a person who goes home with you to help you transition back into life, works to keep you sober, and provides the emotional and psychological support to help you stay clean and sober during this difficult period. This is important for many, because a large percentage of recovering addicts leave treatment and immediately relapse. While early relapse is often followed by recovery, a sober companion can help you to stay on track and avoid relapse altogether by providing support and accountability.
Companionship – Sober companions work to offer basic companionship during what is a difficult period in your life. This is ideal for persons who live alone, who are estranged from friends or family, or who would otherwise lack crucial emotional support as they move out of rehab. Your sober companion will talk to you, help you through cravings, and will typically actively offer friendship and companionship. This also includes mental support when you run into triggers, recommendations when you should go to your counselor or group therapy, and advice when you need it.
Relapse Prevention – Sober companions typically actively work to prevent you from relapsing. This may include searching your home for drugs and alcohol, accompanying you when out to prevent you from purchasing drugs or alcohol, taking you to 12-step meetings, and actively helping you to say no when opportunities for relapse are present.
In most cases, a sober companion will simply stay with you, work to keep you from relapsing by taking you to meetings, and will act as a friend and companion.
Different Types of Sober Companions
In most cases, you can choose between three primary types of sober companionship. While availability will depend on your rehab center and your area, sober companions are normally live-in, on-call, or escort-based.
Live-In – Live-in sober companions move into your home or into a sober or halfway house with you as you either leave inpatient care or when you begin outpatient care. Your sober companion will actively search your home for substances and will throw them out if you have drugs or alcohol. Depending on the sober companion, they may offer additional services such as cooking and cleaning and may work with you to help you build healthy nutrition and exercise habits. For example, a sober coach may create a daily schedule for you with exercise, nutrition, meditation, and self-care, which they will help you to learn and develop into a habit.
On-Call – If you want a sober companion to support you during your recovery but don’t have the time or means to have a live-in companion, on-call sober companions are also an option. Here, your sober companion is available on-demand and you can call them (typically at any time) to request that they talk to you or visit you. This is ideal if you mostly need support with dealing with cravings or triggers but don’t necessarily need someone to share your living space.
Escort-Based – Escort-based sober companions primarily function to prevent you from buying substances as you travel to and from work, social gatherings, sobriety or group meetings, or to your therapist. This type of support is ideal if you don’t trust yourself not to relapse if left alone, but don’t necessarily need emotional support outside of your counselor, friends, and family.
12-Step vs. Non-12-Step Sober Companions
If you’re with a 12-step group, you may be able to request a sober companion that is a member of your 12-step fellowship. Here, your sober companion will b clean and sober, will help you to integrate into the group, and will escort you to and from meetings – both to ensure your sobriety and to ensure that you attend. A non-12-step sober companion is more likely to be affiliated only with your rehab center or halfway house instead.
Benefits of Hiring a Sober Companion
Sober companies can offer a lot of benefits and can help you to recover more quickly by preventing relapse. However, the services offered by your sober companion will vary a great deal depending on the individual, as will their training and qualifications for the role.
You can typically rely on a sober companion for:
Emotional Support – Receiving emotional support is an important part of feeling validated, motivated, and willing to push through challenges such as cravings and triggers. Simply having someone to talk to you, who can listen in a non-judgmental way can greatly improve your outlook and your ability to persevere when things are difficult. Sober companions function very well in this role, and many will have qualifications in offering basic counseling or psychological support.
Social Accountability – A sober companion holds you accountable for staying clean or sober. They are typically with you for up to 30 days and sometimes longer and will often become your friend. This will make relapse harder, simply because you have someone to stay clean and sober for, you will feel accountable and likely guilty if you relapse and will therefore have extra motivation to abstain. Accountability is an important factor of recovery and one of the reasons 12-step groups are successful because being accountable for sharing your results greatly motivates you to stay clean and sober.
Preventing Drug Use – While your sober companion offers emotional and psychological support to prevent drug and alcohol use, they will offer physical support as well. This can range from taking drugs and alcohol away from you to searching your home and providing an escort when you leave the house. This will make it significantly harder to relapse, which is why sober companions are often used when recovering patients have no real motivation of their own to recover.
In some cases, your sober companion may provide additional services such as assistance, nutrition help, and exercise guidance, but this will vary a great deal.
Choosing a Sober Companion
A sober companion can be a valuable part of recovery if you are living alone, don’t receive emotional and psychological support from friends or family, or are going through outpatient recover. However, it’s important to choose and hire your sober companion with care to ensure you hire a person who is qualified and who will offer you what you need to recover.
Standards – There are no medical standards and no set training standards required for sober companions in the United States. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to qualifications, training, and other details when making a hire. Hiring your sober companion through your treatment center or halfway house is a good way to ensure that you receive a quality service from a qualified individual.
Insurance – Your insurance may or may not cover the cost of your sober companion. You should call your provider in advance to determine which treatment centers they work with or ask your treatment center for assistance.
Level of Service – Sober companions can provide anything from a full maid and cooking service for the period or very basic and minimal care. It’s always a good idea to choose a solution that meets your specific needs while allowing you to grow and move into recovery on your own.
A sober companion can greatly help during the transition period between first getting sober and going back to your life and can also be essential in preventing relapse during outpatient addiction treatment. Sober companions are never a replacement for treatment and behavioral therapy, but a good companion will provide emotional support and will help you to stay clean or sober while you adjust, learn to cope with everyday life again, and continue your journey into recovery.
If you or a loved one is looking for a sober companion, please contact Beginnings Treatment Centers today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help you.