How important is it to have a “sobriety coach” in order to kick the alcohol habit? In the celebrity spotlight, Courtney Love believes Lindsay Lohan is in desperate need of this kind of accountability, and Love thinks she’s the woman for the job according to her claims to Details Magazine in late November. But are sobriety coaches just for celebrities? Or can they benefit the average Joe?
One can learn two lessons from this Love/Lohan scenario. First, if your lifestyle seems to be slipping from your control (like Lohan’s repetitive trips to rehab and prison), then – as friends may suggest – formal accountability may be just the thing you need.
Second, you need to be picky when choosing a sobriety coach. Courtney Love might not be the best choice to coach Lohan, based on her publicized experiences with alcohol and drug abuse. In addition, accountability can’t be effective without both parties agreeing to terms. According to The New York Times, Lindsay Lohan’s representative denies any such accountability partnership between the two women.
However, as Love points out, you want to find a coach who has been through addiction and understands the journey. Love explained to Details Magazine, “I’ve taken up Lohan because nobody else will. She’s further down the line than I was, because there was no [gossip website] TMZ then,” (independent.ie, “Courtney Love: I’m helping Lindsay Lohan,” Nov. 30, 2011).
Having a sobriety coach is not essential, but it does produce efficient results. For those who are looking to kick the alcohol habit quickly, sobriety coaches can greatly speed up the recovery process. According to author Lisa Neumann, “. . . a coach can assist with getting us on a fast and intense track. This is an option for those serious about recovery. Look for a coach who is familiar with addiction or has recovered from addiction. This is not therapy. It is achievement driven. . . . Coaches are action-oriented. A qualified coach will encourage us to take action and hold us accountable.” (Sober Identity: Tools for Reprogramming the Addictive Mind, p. 119).
A coach is especially effective at helping with transition from a treatment facility. Often, when a person leaves such a facility, the reality of lifted boundaries is overwhelming. Temptations are everywhere, and family or friends are not sure how to help. According to interventionservicesinc.com, 50% of relapses happen in the first 7 days after a treatment program:
. . . Once a person leaves treatment they are in a precarious position. Although they may have the basic concepts of recovery in place, they have little actual experience in avoiding temptations. How will they handle the flight home? Will they want to call “an old drug using friend” and have them meet them when they land? Will they stop off for a drink before leaving the airport? These are often the hardest points to get through. This is why even the sincerest clients sometimes relapse before even setting foot back in their own home (interventionservicesinc.com, “Sober Coaches”).
What would a sobriety coach do for you? According to Angela Haupt, health writer at usnews.com, sober coaches are paid between $200/hour to $1,000/day to perform a range of activities, from assisting with grocery shopping to verbal encouragement.
“They are motivators and cheerleaders, role models and mentors,” Haupt writes. “They don’t sugarcoat their words. And they resort to the unconventional to break a client’s addiction cycle” (health.usnews.com, “For Addiction Help, Hire a ‘Sober Coach’,” Dec. 21, 2010).
Haupt stresses that, according to Doug Caine (founder and president of Sober Champion), sober coaches are not hand-holders or babysitters. Rather, they work hard to create an “intense, bonded relationship” with their clients.
Is sobriety coaching worth the big bucks? True, Lindsay Lohan can easily spare thousands of dollars for constant accountability assistance; but for the average Joe, the average hourly rate can be steep.
Some would caution, as Angela Haupt points out, that there is no standard to this one-on-one care. These coaches are not bound to a 12-step structure. While many coaches do have the experience to back their coaching, there are not yet any published studies to prove this method’s effectiveness.
The decision lies with everyone. Are you a person who benefits from one-on-one encouragement? Do you need help getting through the simplest challenges and temptations of each day? Do you need an aggressive supporter who isn’t afraid to use harsh words to get you in gear? Then perhaps it’s worth browsing a site like soberchampion.com.
At the very least, one can learn from celebrities like Lindsay Lohan. Sobriety is an intense to battle. Addiction is a long-term challenge that requires constant focus, energy, and discipline to overcome.
Whether you pay a professional coach or ask a friend to help, formal accountability can be the necessary life-jacket as you battle to swim against the raging current of your addictions.