How to Find the Right Sober Companion for Your Addiction Recovery Journey
Addiction recovery can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right sober companion, you get support and guidance in real time whenever and wherever you need it. On-demand support from someone you know you can trust often becomes critical at the most difficult stages of recovery, when the relapse risks are high, or when someone is struggling to stay sober with willpower alone. Sober companions fill gaps in support, but not all sober companions are created equally. Here’s how you can be confident you’re choosing the best sober companion for your recovery journey.
What Is a Sober Companion?
Sober companions are professional addiction specialists who focus on providing around-the-clock resources, guidance, and support for individuals at any stage of recovery. They are often in recovery themselves, and their perspective is invaluable during recovery. Not all sober companion programs are the same, though, and it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for someone else.
If you think that a sober companion could benefit you or someone you care about, you need to ensure you understand how the process of selecting a sober companion works and what you need to be aware of before making a decision.
How to Choose a Sober Companion
Deciding if a sober companion could benefit you is only the beginning, and you need to put as much care and attention into choosing the right companion as you would when selecting a treatment program or clinician. The broader process generally follows this sequence:
- Start by building a long list (10–12) of sober companion programs.
- Research their treatment philosophies, credentials, and funding options.
- Narrow down a short list (3–5) of programs based on those three criteria.
- Interview them with the questions detailed below as a guide.
- Identify the two or three programs that resonate the most with you.
- If possible, meet with potential sober companions to make sure you’ll work together well.
- Finalize the decision and begin integrating the sober companion into your life as needed.
Factors That Set Sober Companions Apart
Before we get into the qualifying questions you should ask when vetting sober companion programs, it’s helpful to have a general understanding of the factors that set most commonly set programs apart. Some are more obvious than others, including:
- Years of experience or sobriety
- Credentials and training
- Rigor of background checks
- Involvement during companion selection
- Clinical integration
- Level of customization/flexibility
- Ability to treat dual diagnosis cases
- Different specializations in alcohol/substances
What Sets ALYST’s sober companions apart? It’s more than an upgrade to the name.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Sober Companion
As you begin interviewing potential sober companions, make sure to ask these questions so you can identify the best option for your needs.
What’s Their Background?
Take the time to get to know their backstory. Of course, you’ll always want to ensure intensive background checks are performed, but you’ll also want to check references and review credentials for anyone or any organization you’re considering working with. Remember, the foundation of a successful sober companion partnership is trust and transparency. If there are any flags in their past, it could lead to trust issues in the long run.
How Long Have They Been in Recovery?
In order to fully understand the pitfalls, nuances, and mindset commonly experienced during recovery, it’s important that any sober companion you consider working with has at least several years of sobriety under their belt. This is one of the most crucial indicators that they’ll be successful helping others achieve the same level of success.
What Level of Training Do They Have?
Unfortunately, there are no mandated training or certification requirements in order for someone to qualify as a sober companion. That means training is optional, and while you have to be more careful with who you’re considering, it makes it easier to screen prospective programs. All you have to do is ask what level of training they require sober companions to hold. The higher and more specific the training requirements, the more confident you can feel about their commitment to helping individuals recover.
What Standards and Values Does the Program Uphold?
As you’re interviewing programs, It’s also important to understand the treatment philosophies that set them apart. Every program has different values, priorities, and standards. Familiarize yourself with what matters to them, and if they align with what matters to you, it’s often an indication you’re on the right track.
How Do They Work With Clinical Teams?
One of the most important roles a sober companion plays is by filling gaps in clinical treatment. For an effective treatment plan, you have to tap into both professional clinicians together with paraprofessionals who have the lived experience to guide the recovery journey. However, many sober companion programs leave the clinical component out and focus exclusively on the experiential component. If the sober companion program you’re researching does not offer some level of clinical integration, it may not be as effective as those that do.
Can You Connect With Them?
Ultimately, the most important thing when selecting a sober companion is understanding whether this is someone you can connect with, someone you can come to trust, and someone you can turn to without hesitation. Sober companions often live in your home during the initial recovery phases, so you need to understand what they bring to the table. You need to be confident that they’re going to help improve your life, and they’re as committed to achieving your goals as you are.
ALYST Health Holds Our Sober Coaches to the Highest Standards in the Treatment Field
Are you in the process of researching prospective sober companions for yourself or someone you care about? ALYST Health holds our team to the highest standards in the industry. We’re accredited by the Joint Commission, and we enable you to be part of the sober companion selection process along with all necessary resources for addiction recovery. Learn more about our sober companion services.