Sober Coaching vs Sponsorship

By September 19, 2018Relapse Prevention
sober coaching

Every day, fatal overdose claims an estimated 115 lives. Between 1999 and 2016, at least 630,000 people have succumbed to drug overdose. The need for quality addiction treatment has never been higher. But what happens when someone gets out of treatment and is thrust back into the real world and left to face their problems? Often times rehab centers will tell people that 12 step groups like AA or NA are the best places to go for someone who is fresh out of rehab. Go to 30 meetings in 30 days, because your cravings are going to be intense and you will learn how to stay sober by hanging around the rooms. This is great advice, but what if support group meetings that use the 12 steps is not what you are looking for?

Sober coaching has become more popular in recent years as a service for those who wants to stay sober and need guidance. You can think of sober coaching as a form of life coaching, as a good sober coach will show you positive ways to deal with negative emotions. Sober coaches show you how to cope with cravings, avoid triggers, and work on improving your life as a whole. Some individuals may require sober coaches or sponsors to help them cope with the cravings. Sober coaching shows people new to recovery that maintaining long-term sobriety is possible.  There’s a difference in the way sober coaching and sponsorship works. If you want a sponsor for free and want to work the steps with someone who has been in your shoes, than a sponsor is the right way to go . For some, sober coaching is more appealing.

What is Sober Coaching?

You have heard about personal trainers for those who want to shed some weight. These are people who could not possibly achieve their fitness dreams on their own. For alcohol and drug dependents, they turn to a sober coach or a sponsor if you are in the rooms. In essence, these coaches support and guide the patient to adopt lifestyle changes that help them stay sober. Sober coaching can show people new to recovery holistic therapies that can help you cope with negative emotions. If you are looking for a non 12 step approach to addiction recovery, finding a sober coach may be just what you need.

The sober champion also challenges the individual into avoiding situations that could trigger a relapse. But make no mistake, being a sober coach is not easy. First off, they need to get certification from the state before they can practice.

If you hire a sober coach, you are expected to meet with him or her at least once a week. In the first year after you finish the rehab program however, you will meet with your sober coach as often as you can. The first 12 months is crucial for the recovering patient considering the high level of relapse during this time.

Requirements of being a sober coach:

  1. They have to be 18 years old and older

  2. They should have a high school diploma or a GED

  3. They must be sober for at least one year

  4. They should pass the course and then the ensuing test

  5. They need to apply before the state certification board

Sober coaches also need to complete the required number of hours for volunteer work and apprenticeship under the watchful eye of their supervisors, before even being considered by the state certification board.

What is Sponsoring and is it Different Than Sober Coaching

A sober sponsor exists almost exclusively in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. The sponsor serves as a mentor and sounding board for the patient. All information is taken with utmost confidence. In essence, the sponsor is supposed to be an “understanding friend or companion” who will be there when the patient needs them most.

Like a sober coach, the sponsor is also a member of a 12-step program who has been sober for at least a year. That gives them unique insight into the problems and concerns encountered by the patient, as they have already experienced it themselves.

Unlike sober coaches, sponsors don’t need formal training for this. You can easily become one should you volunteer during AA and NA meetings to become a sponsor and make yourself available to those new to the rooms of 12 step meetings.  Of course, sponsors are still thoroughly screened to ensure they will advance all the principles and teachings of the 12-Step program. Most sponsors will benefit from mentoring too, because they will have their own realizations when they step up and become responsible for somebody else’s welfare.

Sober Coaching and Sober Sponsoring: Which Should You Choose?

The informal approach adopted by AA and NA in helping individuals in their paths toward sobriety has both its pros and cons. This is also true with the sober sponsorship.

With sober coaching, you get the benefit of being mentored by somebody who underwent formal training. Part of the responsibility of the sober coach is to be upgraded on the latest innovations when it comes to rehab and sobriety treatments.

On the downside, most sober coaches do not offer their services for free. This is understandable considering that they invested so much to secure their certification. This means that your expenses will add up, especially since alcohol and rehab treatments are not cheap by any standard. You are looking at thousands of dollars for the detox, counseling, and lodging alone, and the cost doesn’t include after-care programs and medications.

Meanwhile, the sober sponsorship program is purely voluntary. Most 12 step rehab centers can refer you to the list of volunteers who will guide you on your way to sobriety. The only criterion is that there should be a certain level of trust and comfort on both sides. As part of their responsibility, sponsors will be available 24 hours a day, especially for the most at-risk individuals.

No matter who you choose as your sobriety companion however, it still won’t work without your 100% commitment to becoming sober.