What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion, Sober Coach, or Recovery Coach?

A sober companion, sober coach, or recovery coach provides one-on-one assistance to newly recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The goal is to help the client maintain total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and to establish healthy routines outside of a residential treatment facility. Sober coaches assist with the transition from treatment back to everyday living. The sober coach will meet the client at discharge, accompany them on their trip home, and within 24 hours, attend with them their first AA or NA meeting.

What are the Duties of a Sober Companion?

The sober companion’s duties encompass a wide variety, from ensuring that the client remains abstinent to serving as a resource broker and advocate in the client’s home community.

The primary duty of a sober companion is to ensure the recovering addict does not relapse. They may be hired to provide round the clock care, be on-call, or to accompany the recovering addict during particular activities, such as taking them to fellowship meetings at which the recovery coach encourages them to meet people and get phone numbers. They work together with the client in making their home a clean and sober environment, as well support the client in following through with their recommended discharge plan.

A sober companion also acts as an advocate for the newly recovering person and provides new ways for the client to act in their own living environment. Many companions use techniques such as chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, meditation, distraction, massage, diet and proper nutrition, exercise and even prayer and affirmation of sober choices. A sober coach either completely removes the addict from his own environment of hidden stashes, or may search for hidden drugs in their own environment, in an effort to make the living environment safe for the client and to prevent them from relapsing

How Long Does Sober Companion Services Last?

Companions are available to assist clients for as long as support is deemed necessary. Sober companion treatment usually lasts for 30 days however, oftentimes, much longer. The time required to effect a meaningful change varies greatly depending upon the client, their co-occurring disorders, and the family life at home. Ideally, a companion’s presence in the client’s life will decrease as the client’s ability to confront family, work, and legal issues without relapse is proven. Some providers stay with their clients for many months, and some offer only transportation services.

The Benefits of Having a Sober Companion

The first few days outside of the structured treatment setting are typically the most critical – and most trying for the newly recovering alcoholic/addict. This transitional period is often awkward and uncomfortable for the recovering person therefore, sober companionship and coaching offers support, encouragement, and camaraderie during this crucial time.

Other circumstances for which having a sober coach is beneficial are cases where an actor or musician will not attend treatment, but must remain abstinent to complete a film or recording project. Another circumstance might be that the newly recovering alcoholic/addict is in school and thus needs to be back in their own living environment.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org

http://www.soberescorts.com/

 

 

Practice the Principles: Step 3

step 3

 

Step 3: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Being a self-proclaimed agnostic and some-time science nerd, it was initially difficult for me to accept and adhere to the 12 Steps, what with all the “God talk” throughout. Step 3 is the first to explicitly use the word “God” and this was off-putting to me. But I was in the business of saving my life and, having the gift of desperation, I was willing to try anything. Even Step 3.

At about thirty pounds under weight due to a steady diet of opiates, crack, and benzos I had the willingness to try something new, something different because I had tried everything I could think of to stop drinking and drugging. There was the moving from place to place (states apart), psychiatry, medication, acupuncture…you name it. But I couldn’t stop.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that this way of thinking and behaving is typical for people like me: the addict/alcoholic. It also tells me that sheer willpower alone will not get and keep me clean and sober; that I lacked a spiritual foundation without which, I would never get what I was seeking: a life without dependence on alcohol and other drugs. Steps 1 and 2 speak of our powerlessness over substances and mention the existence of something greater than ourselves that could save us from ourselves. Step 3 is the first step to suggest seeking God as that power “greater than us.”

Allow me to shed some light on my resistance to subscribing to a program that emphasizes the word “God.” I am that kid who, as early as elementary school, would be scolded daily for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. My reasoning: because it includes the word “God” and, even at the young age of seven or eight, I was a firm believer in Separation of Church and State. I was that kind of rebel.

Now, I have for a long time made the distinction between being spiritual and being religious. I always thought of myself as a spiritual person but not a religious one. And there certainly is a difference. But, it wasn’t until I decided to get clean and become willing to follow the 12 Steps that I really got to test my ability to distinguish between the two. And Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, was where the real test began because it is the first of the 12 Steps that uses the word “God.”

 

The Big Book’s authors did a huge service to the atheist/agnostic by preceding the Step 3 Principle with a chapter called, “We Agnostics.” In it, Bill W. and Dr. Bob acknowledge those of us who do not believe in the traditional concept of God. But our predecessors were even more understanding and respectful of the agnostic when writing Step 3; they explicitly included “as we understood Him” in the wording.  Aha! This sort of loophole is perfect to the alcoholic/addict who likes to manipulate words and meanings. And it was intentional. It allows those of us who do not believe in “God” per se, to create our own version of a power greater than ourselves when working Step 3.

Once I surrendered and worked Step 3 along with the rest of the 12 Steps, I was finally able to get and stay clean and sober.

 

 

Practice the Principles: Step 2

 

Step 2 for the newcomer:

Step two simply states that “Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The principle behind this step is hope and there is a reason for this. The actual thing that the step is asking you to do is not have faith or even believe in anything but, to have hope that the steps and that higher power can help you. All you need is hope to have a good start.

In essence what step 2 is doing is the exact opposite of step 1. In step 1, alcoholics and addicts are asked to admit they are powerless and that alcohol was what had power over them. In step 2, alcoholics and addicts begin to hope and begin to find another higher power which can return them to sanity. Hope is especially important for alcoholics and addicts because when they first decide to get clean and sober there seems to be no hope and then they work step 1 and have to admit that they are powerless and then the situation seems even more hopeless. That is why step 2, is right after step 1. In step 2, the 12 steps are saying look there is hope.

Hope is something that most addicts and alcoholics didn’t have when they first came into the rooms of a 12 step fellowship. For many of them they found their first glimpses of hope not in the actual 12 steps or in the principle itself but in the people around them who were staying sober. Hope came in the form of; if that person can do it I can too. Hope is what lets the addict and alcoholic who is brand new know they should and can continue on and that there is a chance this can work.

Step 2: For the person with a little bit more clean time

And hope for those with time is not so much what is needed anymore as a principle but is something that should be given as a principle. Hope is shared. Hope is given to the newcomer by those with more clean time. That is why many AA’ers will say they are just trying to share their experience, strength, and hope. Because as we get more clean time we no longer need hope because we have seen the miracle of steps in our lives and we have begun to live along spiritual lines. Instead, we have to share hope. We have to sit down with a newcomer and tell them our story, we have to speak at meetings, we have to pick up yearly medallions to give hope to the person who is really wondering if they will ever manage to get their life back. Each person who has worked steps and is continuing to live a life along spiritual lines has the duty of carrying the principle of hope in every 2nd step they work with a sponsee and throughout their entire message. So even though we make gain hope in step 2 we always carry it with us to share with others.

 

Practice the principles: Step one

Practice the Principles: Step One

Most people think that step one merely consist of the principle we know as honesty. For me step one contains so much more than that. Step one of the 12 steps of AA is the foundation upon which we work the other 12 steps. Step one encompasses the principles of humility, honesty, and surrender.

Step one of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states “We admitted we were powerless of alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.” The admission of powerlessness is where the true healing and the discovery of power in a higher power comes from. The humility we feel when admitting defeat and that we are powerlessness is a humility we must carry with us through our entire journey in sobriety. This humility and remembrance of being totally defeated by alcohol is what will keep us willing and willingness is indispensable when it comes to getting and staying sober. When you totally surrender and are honest with yourself about being alcoholic you are then capable of realizing that you need the steps in order to stay sober. Not only that but you need another power other than yourself and alcohol in order to stay sober. This is what is going to allow you to be earnest, humble, willing, and desparate enough to do whatever it takes and whatever is suggested to continue on with your sobriety. Without the admission of defeat and the honesty with yourself about your lack of power you will never be able to in effect have a spiritual experience because you will be unable to accept a new power such as God or whatever your higher power is neither will you be capable of being honest throughout the rest of the steps. The first step of AA is really not a hard one if you find that you have been incapable of stopping regardless of consequences or that you knew the consequences and drank or used drugs anyways than you probably are powerless.

Letting go of power is a fundamental principle of AA because we come to rely on a higher power. If we are still holding onto the idea that we have some kind of control or power over our lives than a higher power cannot come in and do what is necessary for us to live happy, joyous, and free as well as sober. Many times newcomers don’t realize that surrendering and being honest about your condition is one of the most freeing experience. They think the honest admission of powerlessness is a flaw, a sign they are weak, or the ones who don’t want to take responsibility. They also are afraid of admitting they have no control. The truth is step one is freeing. There is something miraculous about saying I don’t know what I am doing someone else show me the way, guide me in my life and in my recovery. Why? Because this means that entire weight of the world and all its people don’t rest on your shoulders. It is good to go back to step one and remember this admission of powerlessness no matter where you are in sobriety because a lot of the times with more clean time we tend to begin to take power back or want control again and we must always remember that we have no control; as it says in step one our unmanageable lives and inability to control our drinking showed us this time and time again.

The principles in step one that need to be continually practiced are humility (realizing that you don’t know everything and are just that newcomer whose life is totally unmanageable when you try to control it), honesty (being honest about the fact that you really don’t have a clue what you are doing), and surrender (giving it up and saying I need help).

12 Steps to a Relapse

12 steps to a relapse

12 Steps to a Relapse   

The 12 step model for addiction recovery have long been accepted by the addiction treatment community as a way to stay clean and sober in the long term. Another commonly held idea in addiction treatment is that relapse starts long before you ever pick up a drink or a drug. These two ideas come together in the 12 steps to a relapse.

The Alcoholics Anonymous: Big Book says, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” (pg.85) This means that even if we have worked all 12 steps, we can still relapse if we do not maintain our spiritual condition. If we become comfortable in our recovery and “rest on our laurels” we run the risk of relapse.

Sometimes old patterns of behavior begin to come back. This is where we may start to see a relapse begin. We may start working the 12 steps in reverse. This is what is known as the 12 steps to a relapse.

It begins when we get too busy to carry the message. Maybe we have replaced recovery with work, gym or a relationship. We get overconfident. We have less contact with other recovering alcoholics and meeting attendance starts to decline. This is the first step in the 12 steps to a relapse.

Next we may stop praying or meditating. We no longer seek conscious contact with a higher power. It may be subtle at first. But over time, we no longer pray or meditate at all.

The next step in the 12 steps to a relapse is the unworking of steps 10-4.  We stop taking inventory and we stop making amends. Our character defects come back, and we are unwilling to have a higher power remove them. We lose sight of the moral inventory we once made and begin to repeat the same behavior we exhibited during addiction.

The 12 steps to a relapse continue when we take our will back. Not just a little, as we may have done in the past, but the whole thing. We start to try to run the show.  The power we once believed  could restore us to sanity is now out the window. We begin believe we can do it ourselves. We believe we now have the power, and we can manage our own lives. These are unworking steps three, two, and one in the 12 steps to a relapse. At this point, we are likely to pick up a drug or drink. We likely feel irritable, restless, and discontent. The “hole in the soul” has come back, and we seek other things to fill it.

The 12 steps to a relapse can be avoided if we are constantly moving forward and growing in our program. This is why it is especially important to have a home group and get to know the people in it. Others can sometimes recognize when we have become lacking in our program or when we have begun to work the 12 steps to a relapse. They may be able to catch it before it is too late.

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. Some people will attend an inpatient treatment center and figure “Hey, I’m cured; I can go back to living my life.” Unfortunately, this is not the case for most addicts, which is why most treatment centers recommend some kind of aftercare service when you get out.

Here are the most common aftercare services in recovery:

Aftercare Services in Recovery: Outpatient Treatment

Most inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers offer some kind of outpatient treatment as well. Usually, outpatient treatment is used as one of the aftercare services in recovery, rather than primary treatment. Once you have completed a 30 to 90 day program (in some cases longer), you leave the treatment center and return several times a week to continue treatment. Outpatient aftercare services in recovery are a good follow up to inpatient treatment because it keeps a person in recovery accountable and helps them deal with things that come up once they are living on their own. For many alcoholics and addicts, the most dangerous time is right after they leave inpatient treatment. The risk for relapse is very high. Outpatient services at a drug and alcohol treatment center can improve the chances that an alcoholic or addict will stay clean and sober in the long term.

Aftercare Services in Recovery: Sober Houses

Sober living homes offer a concentrated, drug free environment so that individuals who have finished inpatient drug treatment programs can further establish and strengthen their sobriety. This is one of the aftercare services in recovery that is highly recommended, because people who go to sober houses have a better chance of long-term recovery. Sober houses provide an opportunity to cement the coping skills, communication techniques, and healthy lifestyles that are initiated during residential treatment. In addition, sober houses provide an environment where people in recovery can form a strong support system. In a sober living home, you will be surrounded by other people who are trying to establish a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Most sober living homes are designed to keep you accountable by establishing guidelines that include regular drug tests, compulsory attendance at twelve step groups, and requirements to find a job and contribute to rent.

Aftercare Services in Recovery: 12 Step Groups

Twelve step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are possibly the oldest and most well-established of the aftercare services in recovery. Since its inception, Alcoholics Anonymous and groups like it have helped millions of people recover from addiction to drugs and alcohol. The groups offer support, camaraderie, and accountability to people struggling with addiction. Most fellowships recommend that you attend 90 meetings during the first 90 days of sobriety. They also counsel that you should get a sponsor, join a home group, and work the 12 steps of recovery. Twelve step groups frequently host fellowship events which are fun activities within a sober environment. This can be invaluable to a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.

Do I have to work a 12 step program?

Do I have to work a 12 step program?

Do I have to work a 12 step program?

The truth is that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are not the only ways to recover. There are plenty of people who stop using drugs and alcohol without using the 12-steps. I tried many other things before I came into the rooms of AA. I used willpower. I tried drugs like suboxone and anti-depressants. I went to therapy.  I moved. I traveled. I attended church. I participated in Buddhist meditation and South American ayahuasca ceremonies. I joined a gym and did yoga on the beach every night. Some of these things worked for a while, but none in the long term. But just because they didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean they won’t work for someone else.

I would, however, highly recommend that anyone who is suffering from an addiction work a 12 step program. For one, I may have been able to be abstinent with a few of the methods I mentioned above, but I was never truly happy. This is why they did not work for me in the long term. I learned that to truly recover-mind, body, and spirit, I needed to find a different way of living. Otherwise, I was sober and miserable. Even more miserable than when I was drinking and using drugs. This is because drugs and alcohol weren’t the problem. They were never the problem. They were my solution. I had to find another solution that did at least as much as drugs and alcohol did for me. You don’t have to work a 12 step program, but without a 12 step program, you may not be happy without drugs and alcohol.

The other reason I would suggest that someone work a 12 step program is that it would of saved me a lot of time. You say why work a 12 step program, and I say why not? It would have been far easier than spending years of my life chasing another solution. The main reason I did not want to work a 12 step program was fear. What if I work a 12 step program and it works for me? Will I have to spend the rest of my life tethered to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, blindly repeating things like “One day at a time” and “It works if you work it”? Would I have to admit that I was one of “those people” that I saw in the rooms, eyes glazed over, talking about God and the Big Book? I had contempt for the program before I even knew what it was. Instead of just trying it like I had tried everything else, I wasted a decade of my life trying to find a different way. I had to lose everything; becoming so desperate in the process that I was willing to try anything. If you’re on the fence about whether to work a 12 step program, my advice would be to just try it. You aren’t selling your soul to AA. You don’t have to sign your name in blood. You are not obligated in any way to stay in AA if you decide it isn’t for you. Try it. Give it a fair shot. Be open and honest in your pursuit. If it doesn’t work for you, all your misery will be refunded to you, free of charge.

What makes a good sponsor?

What makes a good sponsor?

What makes a good sponsor?

There are so many people out there who get sober and are willing to sponsor but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they would make good sponsors. Good sponsors have less to do with how much knowledge of the program they have and what kind of relationship with a higher power they have. When we as addicts and alcoholic get a sponsor who takes us through steps, it is not the sponsor who gets us sober but the higher power we find during the process. So what makes a good sponsor?

  • A good program

A good program is essential to a good sponsor. A good sponsor will have worked all twelve steps in a twelve step program be continually taking action throughout their daily life to keep progressing. Working a good program means that they continue to attend meetings, help newcomers, have a growing relationship with their own understanding of a higher power and practice spiritual principles throughout every aspect of their life.

  • Integrity

Integrity is one of the main ingredients in the mixture that makes a good sponsor. Integrity means that even when no one is looking this individual continues to do the right things. They practice what they preach. A good sponsor will give you a suggestion and then also practice that in their life. A good sponsor will never tell you not to cheat on your boyfriend and then cheat on their boyfriend. If this is the case chances are that your sponsor is a good person but going through a spiritual rough patch and you may want to find someone with a little bit more integrity.

  • Practices principles in all aspects of their life

A good sponsor practices spiritual principles. A good sponsor doesn’t just practice spiritual principles at meetings or with sponsees, they also practice spiritual principles in their relationships, at work, with their families and in all areas of their life. The 12 step program is a design for living not for staying sober and good sponsors recognize this and practice the same patience, tolerance, kindness and love that they practice in the rooms, in every area of their life. They let all the principles of the program spill over into the way they handle their career, their school, their friends, their family, and their relationship.

  • Someone who has time for you

A good sponsor will always have time for you. A good sponsor will usually stop whatever they are doing to help you, that is, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. You can’t ask a sponsor to give their all if you are not giving your all in the program. Just as your time is precious so is your sponsor’s. So if you are respectful of their time you should expect the same respect of your time and they will always manage to fit you into their schedule regardless of how busy it may seem they are. They are never bothered or too busy to talk on the phone or in person.

So what makes a good sponsor? What they are doing in their own program not so much what they are doing for you because as it was first stated your sponsor won’t keep you sober but they will be a huge part of your journey into recovery. That’s why it is good to find a good sponsor who doesn’t work your program for you but works their program every day to the best of their ability as it carries over into their daily life.

Taking your sponsee through the 12-steps

Taking your sponsee through the 12-steps

Taking your sponsee through the 12-steps

Taking your sponsee through the 12-steps

Taking a sponsee through the 12-steps has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in sobriety for me. I feel privileged to walk another woman through the process that saved my life. Every sponsor has a slightly different way of taking another woman through the steps. Some go through the Big Book of AA, page by page, others prefer a “quick step” method. I’m not sure how Narcotics Anonymous does it; I have no experience with NA, but I believe they have a workbook for step work.

Before starting my steps, my sponsor asked me two questions:

1. Are you willing to go to any lengths for your sobriety?

2. When we are finished, are you willing to take other women through the steps?

These are the same questions I ask my sponsees when taking them through 12-steps. The first indicates a willingness to commit to sobriety and take the action needed to stay sober. The second question is important because we cannot keep what we have unless we give it away. If an alcoholic isn’t willing to share the solution once they go through the steps, they have little chance in staying sober.

Before I take a sponsee through the 12-steps, I ask them to read the Doctor’s Opinion. The Doctor’s Opinion lays out exactly what alcoholism is; the three part illness-the physical allergy, the mental obsession, the spiritual malady. This is important because it defines the disease of alcoholism.

Again, every sponsor takes a sponsee through the 12-steps, but everyone does it a little differently. It was explained to me that the first three steps were “commitment steps.” They were decisions. They were my pledge to finish the rest of the work. I didn’t have a tough time with the idea of a higher power, but a lot of alcoholics do. The chapter “We Agnostics” can be very helpful in these situations.

There is always a lot of trepidation when I am taking a sponsee through the 12 steps when we get to the fourth step- the moral inventory. In my experience, the dread before doing a fourth step is much worse than the actual step. I did a lot of things in my addiction, a lot of terrible, risky, and time-consuming things for my drugs when I was using. How bad could it be to simply sit down and write a list of my resentments, fears, and harmful sexual behavior? And that’s what I ask my sponsees when I take them through 12-steps. We go over the moral inventory for the fifth.

Six and seven are pretty short, and then we put pen to paper again for the 8th. Writing down the people I had harmed and how. For nine, my sponsor told me which amends to make, and which to wait on. There were plenty that I will never make directly. My amends to those people are simply living amends, living my life according to spiritual principles and trying to not ever harm anyone else the way I harmed them.

Ten, eleven, and twelve are the maintenance steps. These are the steps I work every day to maintain my sobriety.

There is much more involved when taking a sponsee through the 12-steps, this is a very brief overview. But to truly know how to take a sponsee through the 12-steps, you must go through them yourself.