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What is a Sober Companion?

what is a sober companion | Drug Rehab Center

If you are feeling apprehensive about transitioning back into daily living after rehab, a sober companion is one way of strengthening your defenses against relapse.

While regaining some of the freedom you may have felt lacking in drug rehab can be invigorating, this freedom can work as a double-edged sword.

An expanse of free time and an absence of the structure found in rehab can lead some people to succumb to temptation. According to NIDA, (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), up to 60% of those in recovery relapse at least once.

What’s a Sober Companion?

A sober companion is a hired support individual who can help those in recovery to maintain sobriety beyond the confines of a treatment program.

Many sober companions have experiences with addiction, allowing them to impart a unique perspective on sober living.

Some sober companions live with clients, providing continuous day-to-day support. Others will interact with clients regularly while living separately. Social escorts fall into a separate category of sober companions, accompanying clients to and from IOP (intensive outpatient program) and PHP (partial hospitalization program) sessions. This serves to minimize temptation and distraction during this challenging early phase of recovery.

An effective sober companion can offer guidance and advice as well as emotional support and accountability as you navigate sober living.

The main types of sober companions include:

  • Live-in sober companions: Providing round-the-clock physical and emotional support as you transition from alcohol treatment into daily living, a live-in sober companion can be a powerful support system for those feeling vulnerable during the aftercare period of addiction treatment. Live-in sober companions are known for active intervention – by searching for drugs around the house, for instance. Live-in sober companions are not for everyone, but in some delicate situations, they can prove an invaluable ally. Some live-in sober companions provide additional services like cleaning or cooking.
  • On-call sober companions: You can contact an on-call sober companion whenever you run into trouble on your recovery journey. Placing a phone call to your sober companion may help defuse any immediate flashpoints, and they can also visit you at home to ensure you present no risk of relapse and to help you deal with any cravings or temptation by remaining focused on your recovery.
  • Social escorts: This form of sober companion accompanies you to treatment sessions if you are still engaged in therapy. Additionally, social escorts can accompany you to gatherings where you don’t want to use drink or drugs but feel you may be exposed to temptation.

Aside from this, sober companions can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  • 12-step sober companions
  • Non-12 step sober companions

12-step sober companions are typically members of Alcoholics Anonymous and utilize the spiritual guidelines for sobriety from the AA program.

Non-12-step sober companions, by contrast, have no affiliation with 12-step support groups like AA or NA. A reputable evidence-based addiction treatment center can connect you with non-12 step sober companions to buoy up your aftercare and ongoing recovery.

an image of a sober companion

Who Might Need a Sober Companion?

Only you can decide whether you would benefit from a sober companion on your journey from addiction into rehab and beyond.

If a member of your treatment team recommends a sober companion to you, this is something you should seriously consider. According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), roughly half of those with mental health conditions also abuse alcohol or other substances. A sober companion can help you in all areas of life, not just with managing cravings.

If you are in a home environment where others are still using substances, a live-in sober companion may make that arrangement workable for you.

What sort of help can you expect from a sober companion, then?

What Can You Expect from a Sober Companion?

In most cases, sober companions will have varying degrees of experience with addiction and recovery. This is perhaps what encourages the comparison between sober companions and sponsors – more on that below.

You can expect to pay around $1000 per day for the services of a sober companion, although you should consider this an investment in your recovery.

Effective sober companions will perform the following roles:

  • Monitor your home environment for the presence of addictive substances.
  • Keep a close eye on the people you associate with.
  • Encourage you to reconnect with loved ones, repairing the relationships damaged by the consequences of your addiction.
  • Promote the maintenance of the healthy habits and coping mechanisms you developed in treatment.
  • Watch out for any abnormal behaviors that seem to run counter to your recovery.

How to Choose a Sober Companion

Getting the right help for your needs is essential at all stages of your recovery journey. Regrettably, the sober companion profession has no prevailing training or medical standards. This means you will need to vet a sobriety coach or sober companion yourself.

The best option if you want to connect with a reputable sober companion is to hire through your treatment center.

What Is the Difference Between a Sober Companion and a Sponsor?

The 12-step programs AA and NA both operate a sponsor service. A sponsor is an unpaid volunteer and member of the program who helps a sponsee stick to the 12-step program.

Sober companions, on the other hand, are paid to provide an individualized support service. As such, this type of companion can offer more flexibility in terms of care and support.

an image of sober companions

The Best Way to Achieve Sustained Sobriety

If you are one of the 28.5 million people in the United States with alcohol use disorder, the most effective route to ongoing sobriety is to engage with an appropriate level of treatment.

Fortunately, there are several medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. You can benefit from medication-assisted treatment from detox to discharge and beyond.

While this will help you negotiate the physical component of alcoholism, the best treatment centers always deliver MAT alongside psychological and behavioral interventions like counseling and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Therapy and counseling will help you unpack the psychological aspect of alcoholism to initiate a complete, whole-body recovery.

If you choose to address your alcohol use disorder at our Orange County rehab, we will ensure you have the right level of aftercare and relapse management in place. We will also help you to step down to a less intensive level of therapy and care if you are concerned about a harsh re-entry into daily living. By treating your recovery as an ongoing process and not a time-limited event, you will strengthen your foundation of sobriety.

Joe Gilmore
Author: Joe Gilmore

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