Staff Spotlight: Recovery Coach for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)
What is it like being a recovery coach?
CH: So my position is different because it’s a non-clinical position at North Shore Medical Center. My position is mobile so I’m able to meet the client where they’re at so it’s a little bit different than having someone come in to see a social worker or a doctor. A lot of the times the recovery coaches are required to be in recovery. I’m in recovery from a substance use disorder. My personal experience allows me to help somebody who is struggling with addiction and to see how my life has changed and what I can do to help promote positive changes in their life.
How do you help them through their journey?
CH: It depends. First off, it’s meeting them and seeing where they’re at. Somebody could be struggling with drinking or using and would need to go onto a detox. There are all different pathways so I would sit with them and see what works best for them. That could be abstinence or medication, going to meetings, religious, there’s all different ways. It’s more finding out what I can do to help them.
Do you feel that your unique position positively impacts your clients?
CH: I think having my own personal experience with addiction and now living my life in recovery can give the client a lot of hope to see that recovery is possible. I can speak to them on their level, with their language, and know that I’ve been where they are. I can’t tell them what to do, but I can give them perspective. I won’t dictate what this is going to look like, but I can offer them different pathways and support them. I’m working as a team with the social worker, the doctor, the therapist, myself—everybody working together gives the client more hope for recovery.
What are some of the hurdles you have to overcome on a day to day basis?
CH: A lot of times you meet a client and they’re just not ready. Relapse is going to happen. Not everybody is going to come in and want to get sober and change their life. So sometimes we have struggled with people relapsing and trying to figure out what’s the best pathway for the client.
What do you do if someone refuses your help?
CH: Well, I would continue to let them know that I’m here and I’m always here to support them. And when they’re ready I’m still going to be here. I can always send a text to let them know if they want to talk, to meet me, or text, I’m available. It’s hard when some people just aren’t ready yet, but just having the client know I’m here for when they are ready is huge for them. Knowing that somebody does care. A lot of times the clients are hopeless and they don’t have anybody to believe in them. If I meet them and if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s still good to know that I’m here believing in them and ready to support them reach success. That’s huge.
What is the one thing that everyone should know about recovery coaches?
CH: A lot of times people don’t realize that there are a lot of different ways for people to get better. We’re here to support people and help them find different strategies for recovery that work for them.