Some of the people being coached may still be using drugs or drinking, says Rosenzweig. “There are stages along the way to recovery, and we need to meet people where they’re at, and support them.” With substance use disorders, there is so much stigma that it’s hard for people to ask for support. “If you have cancer, people don’t blame you for it,” Rosenzweig says. “But with SUDs, people say you can control it—but you can’t, because it’s a disease.”
Physicians don’t have time to offer the kind of recovery support that coaches can give, says Rosenzweig. And support groups such as 12-Step fellowships and SMART Recovery may be difficult for some individuals who are “socially phobic” and have a hard time standing up in front of strangers, he says.
Recovery coaches are not babysitters
Some celebrities seek out “sober coaches” who are basically “paid to babysit,” says leading recovery researcher Alexandre Laudet, PhD. Nell Hurley of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation also uses the word “babysitter” to describe these individuals.
“Sometimes they’re called sober escorts,” says Hurley. They accompany the person—for a high price—and are often not licensed counselors or certified for anything, because they don’t get paid by Medicaid.