What is A Sober Companion?
It is now well-established that people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol need lots of help in staying drug-free. After you leave the controlled setting of the rehab facility, it’s natural to feel anxious about rejoining the wider community. The freedom that you’ll have will likely make it more difficult to stay away from drugs or alcohol. In addition, you’ll likely have to make some major changes to your lifestyle. If you’re worried about relapsing when you return home, you may want to look into hiring a sober companion. This is one of the many types of aftercare available for people in recovery. If you’d like to know more about what a sober companion is and how they can help you or your loved one, keep reading.
What Is a Sober Companion?
A sober companion is a paid person who helps individuals in recovery to maintain their sobriety outside of rehab. Different terms for companions include sober coach, sobriety coach, and recovery coach. Sometimes, sober companions begin working with the client while they’re in rehab. This allows them to build a trusting relationship with the person. Sober companions may live with a person in recovery, be on-call, or act as a sober escort.
The latter may travel to and from outpatient appointments and therapy sessions with the patient in the months following residential treatment. This can be very helpful since some people feel anxious before meetings and be tempted to stop for a drink. Similarly, a person may experience difficult emotions during a meeting and feel the urge to take a drink or use drugs afterward.
Many people assume that only the rich and famous can afford a sober companion. It’s true that if you want a live-in companion who is available 24/7, this will come at a price. However, not everyone needs or wants this level of support. Some sober companions are more affordable because they offer support as needed instead of working around the clock. They may simply help in high-stress and high-risk situations or lend support with 12 step or non-12-step groups.
Who Needs a Sober Companion?
As your inpatient treatment draws to a close, your therapist or another member of the treatment team may recommend a sober coach. The decision is up to you but there are certain people who would benefit significantly from a sober companion.
For example, if you have mental health issues in addition to your substance abuse issues, a sober companion may help you to stick to your treatment plan. Around half of all individuals who have mental illnesses abuse drugs or alcohol, so seeking out personalized recovery guidance is always a good idea.
You may also need some one-on-one help if you’re returning to a household in which someone abuses drugs or alcohol. It is very hard to resist the temptation to use when other people around you are drinking or using drugs. Having a live-in sober companion is likely to be worth it.
Before you make your decision, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a strong support system that includes friends or family?
- Am I likely to need external help in staying sober when facing pressure and challenges?
- Can I afford to pay a sober coach without putting too much strain on my finances?
- Can I plan and execute healthy, positive daily activities on my own?
- Am I receiving enough support in group therapy?
What to Expect From a Sober Companion
Sober companions are similar to sponsors in some ways but their role is a lot more involved. That’s why you have to pay them.
A sober companion may:
- Offer unconditional companionship
- Monitor your behavior during recovery
- Remove any drugs or alcohol from your home
- Help you to take advantage of what you learned during recovery
- Keep an eye on the people who hang out with
- Help you to rebuild relationships with friends and family
- Plan activities to fill your free time
- Assist with career guidance
- Help with budgeting
This type of coaching is a lot different from regular therapy or even inpatient rehab. A sober companion doesn’t focus on past traumas that may have contributed to your addiction. Instead, they look at the current issues that are affecting your life and help you to move forward. Therefore, a sober companion may help with things like life skills and nutritional therapy.
Depending on your needs, they may go grocery shopping with you so you don’t buy alcohol or watch you make your morning coffee to ensure you don’t add a shot of brandy. Sober companions often go to unconventional lengths to help their clients stay sober, especially if they’re working full-time. They’ll provide helpful information and hold you accountable for your actions in a highly customized program. Since they’re not emotionally invested like a friend or relative would be, they’ll be more likely to tell you the cold hard truth.
Sober companions are sometimes people who are in recovery from addiction themselves. They can assist in harm reduction and help you to develop your decision-making and coping skills because they’ve experienced many of the same things you have.
Benefits of Sober Companionship
There are many types of aftercare support available for people recovering from addiction. However, there’s a lot to be gained by working with a sober companion. Even if you have a sponsor, there’s no way they could be available 24 hours per day. They may not even be able to answer every time you call. However, if you arrange for your recovery coach to remain on-call or work around the clock, they will do so.
You’re likely to face a number of triggers once you return home even if your life isn’t particularly chaotic. Seemingly simple things like boredom or loneliness can drive a person to drink or use again. If you have a sober companion around all or most of the time, you won’t have to worry about this. Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you can stick to your treatment plan even when you don’t have the person around.
You need to be fully committed to maintaining your sobriety for sober companionship to be truly effective. If you know you’re ready to stay sober but you need some help, you should look into getting a recovery coach.
Drawbacks to Sober Coaching
While there are many advantages associated with hiring a sober companion, there are also some downsides. For example, since the individual is working for pay, you may find it hard to trust them. You may not believe that they truly have your best interests at heart.
You also need to keep in mind that there’s only so much a sober companion can do. While they can help you with relapse prevention, they can’t guarantee that you will never take a drink or use an addictive substance. If they try to stop you, you could just fire them if you’re adamant about drinking or using drugs. This is why some sober companions focus on harm reduction rather than complete abstinence.
Another thing to consider is that there are few studies on the effectiveness of sober coaching. There’s no formal structure, governing body, or regulations in place for companions. There’s also no widely accepted training that they all need to undergo. Some coaches are social workers, drug counselors, or psychotherapists. Some have worked in addiction treatment facilities. However, others are simply individuals in recovery who want to help others based on their own experiences.
Before you hire a sober companion, be sure to look into their training and check their references. It’s also a good idea to find out if they’re affiliated with any addiction treatment programs and what their success rate has been like. If the person is in recovery, ask them how long they’ve been sober.
You’ll want to work with a professional who understands the science behind addiction. They should also be skilled in destressing and de-escalating situations and accessing community resources. Your sober companion should also take confidentiality seriously.
Seeking Professional Advice from the Experts at The Discovery House
If you’re currently undergoing addiction treatment or you’ve returned home and you’re looking at your options, talk to the team at the Discovery House. In many cases, people benefit from combining sober companionship with other forms of support, especially since most people can’t afford a live-in coach. We offer evidence-based programs and we’re staffed by highly trained professionals. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.