For many people who have undergone addiction treatment and experienced a drug or alcohol relapse soon after completing a program and entering a life of sobriety, they know first-hand the impact that work, social and emotional triggers can have on staying the course of recovery. In fact, these are the characteristics of sober living that spur relapse more often than not. And for every instance of relapse, the case for having a recovery companion is self-evident. If relapse is something you know all too well or know a loved one who’s lived it, maybe a recovery companion during treatment and aftercare was the quintessential missing link to long-lasting sobriety.
Part Life Coach, Part Recovery Advocate
After reading through this blog and understanding the who, what, when, where and how a recovery companion helps a person get through the tough and trying moments of recovery, anyone who struggles through everyday life challenges might find benefit in having a recovery companion too.
More than the type of sponsor you’d find through an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program, recovery companions are much more personalized. How? While sponsors in AA are there for you via text, call and meetings (and in-person when available), a recovery companion is completely there for you, when and where you need them to be.
Just as each person has a different life story to tell as to how drug or alcohol addiction happened and the originating cause(s), the triggers for relapse are different because our everyday lives are, different. What is a source of stress for one person may not trigger the same emotional discomfort in another.
Also known as sober companions or transitional support givers, recovery companions are like an extra set of eyes in your life. They can help identify potentially harmful situations, people, and our responses to both during the sober living phase of recovery. The early-English idiom, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” provides a good analogy in what a recovery companion can provide.
During the process of recovery and reintegration back into our own personal society, the person in recovery may not necessarily change their life through new experiences. But it is revisiting their familiar places, people and circumstances that will become altogether new by looking at them through clear, sober eyes. Any pain that was masked with drugs or alcohol is now more accessible and felt. Through the healing methodologies and life skills learned in treatment, the client will then apply those teachings into real life situations. However, it isn’t easy. A recovery companion helps bridge that gap.
The Benefits of a Recovery Companion
If you take a moment to reflect on how much information we take in on a daily basis, good and bad, and then have to effectively process it and respond, save or discard it in healthy ways, it can feel daunting at times. Magnify this and it’s what a person recently in addiction treatment will experience the moment sobriety hits them hard: It happens the moment addiction treatment ends at a facility and aftercare begins.
Not every person leaves addiction treatment with a built-in network of family support. And many of the people that were our friends before treatment are the very people who partnered in our addictive behaviors.
A recovery companion has walked that same path of codependency, perhaps experiencing multiple relapses as well and, somehow, triumphed through sustained recovery. With similar life experiences comes not only a shared wisdom but a valued connection that builds trust, naturally. It is one of the key components that make a recovery companion a vital part of sobriety.
The Triggers of Addiction Relapse
Addiction relapse triggers have a common core. Although alcohol use disorder and drug abuse can happen to anyone, at any age, from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, what makes people fall back on old, destructive habits is the same.
The Common Core of Addiction Relapse
- Co-occurring disorders (mental illness with addiction)
- Life-altering or traumatic event
- Ongoing psychological trauma or stress
- Peer pressure
- Feelings of shame, embarrassment or self-pity
- Inability to cope
Having a compassionate yet stern recovery companion by your side throughout the treatment and recovery process can provide additional reinforcements when needed to keep accountability and abstinence from addictive substances on track.
When and Where Can a Recovery Companion Help
Corporate executives, high profile celebrities, professional athletes and others who have a lot to lose should addiction relapse occur will find benefit from a recovery companion. The reasons and situations may vary but the positive results are the same. You get the motivational push needed, whenever you need it most. Sober companions are available on a 24-hour clock, part time, or for a particular event.
Recovery Companion at Work
Many executives who run powerful companies or have specific places to be seen by their peers, or in the public eye, are under enormous scrutiny by the people they work with and the expectations that come with that territory. In fact, these are often the very places that set up relapse triggers.
Imagine having to host a worldwide convention as a key guest speaker. During a dinner gala, you are expected to raise a glass and toast your salesforce for their stellar production and year-end numbers. Beyond that single toasting of a beverage, there are open bars at multiple locations during the event. To someone just in recovery, that call feel like an open invitation to indulge. A recovery companion can stop that setback before it starts and provide support and distraction, that isn’t obvious to anyone else in the room.
Transitional Support at Home
Traditional holidays and special life events such as weddings or graduations can evoke the urge to celebrate with drugs and alcohol. In addition, many people who have some seasoning in their recovery can fall into a belief that they can handle just one cocktail or go back to sobriety after one night of pretending they don’t have a problem with consumption. A sober companion will ensure that this delusional thought will never be put into action. In addition, not every family will understand or follow a recommended guideline that will support their loved one once they reintegrate into the family/home environment. Transitional support helps strengthen the flaws in real life scenarios.
A Sober Companion Is a Safety Net during Travel
Whether it’s due to work obligations or a planned vacation, travel often serves as a trigger point for relapse. Getting away from it all can be good for the soul but also provides easy opportunities to derail recovery without the worry of running into someone you know and getting caught. Having a sober companion with you throughout your travel can be that friend that cares enough to keep you committed to your healthy life.
Remedy Recovery offers an integrative, evidence-based approach to the treatment of alcohol and drug dependency. Consider an effective, humane approach to remove reliance on substances and experience the benefits of rehab, reinvented.