The Road to Recovery - Peer Coaching March 1, 2019By Nelson W. Burns, President & CEO, Coleman Professional Services One of the biggest struggles for persons with a substance use disorder (SUD) who are on the path to recovery is learning to live life without those substances. There are so many pitfalls along the way that it is very easy to trip up. Since 2014, Coleman has utilized Peer Recovery Coaches in Allen, Auglaize and Hardin (AAH) Counties to help those in recovery to achieve and maintain success. What is a SUD Recovery Coach and what do they do? A SUD recovery coach is a person with direct lived experience of a substance use disorder who is actively in recovery and who has completed the required certification training. Because of their life experiences, the peer recovery coach can assist clients as they navigate hurdles in the path to recovery so they can achieve success. According to Lisa Ashafa, Coleman’s Director of Peer Services in AAH, “The coaches can look the client in the eye and say, ‘I have been there, done that, and made it to recovery successfully. You can do it, too.’ They are the face of motivation and hope and recognize the signs and symptoms of use quicker than the average person due to their first-hand knowledge and experience. They help teach people to have fun in life and make new, sober friends.” Coaches encourage, motivate and support a peer in recovery. They help patients navigate the professional care system and support their behavioral changes. Not unlike other coaching methodologies, the person in recovery identifies their goals, and the coach is there to assist in meeting their objectives. What doesn’t a coach do? They are not meant to replace a case manager. They don’t tell their mentee what to do. They cannot dispense drugs or medical treatment of any kind. Are SUD Recovery Coaches Effective? According to a recent American Society of Addiction Medicine study, people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) had lower hospitalization rates after working with a recovery coach than those without one. “Our initial results suggest that recovery coaches may be an effective new addition to the SUD care team,” stated Jessica Magidson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland who was part of the research team. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) pulled together information from many studies and created a great infographic on the subject of the effectiveness of Peer Recovery Coaching. It shows persons using SUD coaches have improved relationships with treatment providers, increased treatment retention, improved access to social supports, reduced relapse rates decreased criminal justice involvement and greater housing stability, among other things. Click here for the infographic. Is a Recovery Coach a Sponsor? No. Coaches embrace all pathways to recovery, not one specific methodology. Who Qualifies as a SUD Coach? A peer coach must be in recovery for at least two years and completed a formal training program. How often do a coach and client meet? It varies. There can meet only once, or there may be several meetings. The average number of sessions in the study were four over two months. Do the meetings have to be face-to-face? No. While the first encounter usually takes place in the hospital or our case, at Coleman Professional Services, some of the meetings can be via Skype or telephone. Is the coaching confidential? Yes. Is there a cost? It depends on the program. Sometimes the peer coaches are volunteers, so there’s no cost. Other times, employers may offer it through insurance and subsidize part or all of the uncovered expenses. At Coleman, SUD recovery coaching is on a sliding scale, based on the person’s ability to pay. Where is it offered? Currently, we offer this program in Allen and Auglaize counties. However, we’re looking to expand the program to more areas this year. Has it worked at Coleman? During the first six months of our fiscal year, we helped 201 clients, of which, 62% remained sober with the assistance of this program. We’ve received positive feedback from those we’ve improved. To hear some of our clients in the program tell about the impact their coaches have had in their lives, click here. Lisa Ashafa is proud of her team. She said, “These people serve our clients unconditionally while maintaining their own recovery! They put themselves out there publicly to help others get well. People do recover and they are living proof!” Coleman Offers Many Addiction Recovery Services We understand that each person and addiction is different. Our licensed and caring staff knows every individual forges their path forward with a plan that reflects his or her specific goals. We provide SUD recovery coaching in Allen and Auglaize counties for individuals with opiate and alcohol dependency issues. Please call Lisa Ashafa at 419-229-2222 if you’d like to become a coach or if you need one.