For some of us new to recovery from addictions or those of us already in 12-step programs, the term “recovery coach” may be an unfamiliar term. You may find yourself asking, what does a recovery coach do? You may assume that a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is similar to a recovery coach.

While a sponsor from a 12-step program may seem like a coach and encourage our recovery, the term “recovery coach” refers to a professional with a specific job description. A recovery coach may share characteristics similar to other support members on our team. However, recovery coaches have a set of responsibilities outlined by their program guidelines and expectations.

A certified recovery coach 

Sponsors and Recovery Coaches: What Is the Difference?

When entering a sober living home or a recovery treatment program, we may be introduced to a professional recovery coach on our staff. We might feel like this is redundant if we already have a sponsor. While both people play important roles in our treatment, recovery coaches differ from our sponsors in many ways.

A sponsor will primarily focus on guiding us through the 12-step program of AA or NA. Our sponsor will be with us at every step of a specific recovery program. Recovery, however, can include more treatment options than a 12-step program. We may be attending group therapy or seeing a psychotherapist.

We might have a case manager helping us with attaining resources outside of treatment, like housing and medical care. We might have an addiction specialist helping to connect us with recovery programs. Each of these components can be beneficial to our recovery in its own way.

While a sponsor guides us through one specific program, a recovery coach mentors us through our entire recovery process. Recovery coaches help to coordinate and glue the different treatment aspects together and have professional experience in all angles of a recovery-oriented system. They encourage us to engage in lifelong recovery.

While sponsors help us through the 12-step process, once we complete AA or NA, we may want to seek alternative methods of recovery. Even if we continue to attend AA or NA meetings, we may benefit from other programs and treatments to enhance our recovery journey over a lifetime.

Recovery coaches help to facilitate this process. They also counsel and support us in pursuing our goals beyond changing our addictive behaviors. Recovery coaches can help us find purpose in life to enable us to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Recovery Development Plans

Recovery coaches will primarily help us develop a smart recovery development plan. Our recovery development plan will include our goals inside and outside of treatment. The tools that recovery coaches use may be things like:

  • Strengths-Based Approaches: Recovery coaches are interested in focusing on our strengths. Sponsors and addiction specialists tend to be more adept at helping us with our addictive behaviors. However, recovery coaches want to build up our strengths to help us see the value in ourselves. Our strengths can help us build the resiliency and focus needed to engage in recovery for a lifetime.
  • SMART Goals: Recovery coaches consult us in thinking beyond fixing our addictions. They want to understand our life’s purpose and guide us in achieving our goals. Recovery coaches can help us develop effective recovery plans by creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based goals.
  • The GROW model: Our recovery coach may also use the GROW model to develop successful and meaningful recovery plans. GROW stands for having Goals, understanding the Reality of our circumstances, being empowered with Options for treatment and recovery, and having a coach guide us in Writing out our plans.

Generating Options for Treatment: Empowering Us in Recovery

Our recovery coach can empower us in our treatment by generating options for our recovery journey. Some treatment programs or approaches may work well for others but may not work for us at all. A recovery coach can guide us through the process of finding the approaches that work best for us. While some of us may only be familiar with 12-step recovery programs, we might benefit from exploring some other approaches to enhance our treatment. Some of these approaches include:

Recovery coach in a group therapy session. Today, many treatment centers are embracing virtual recovery coaching.

Individual or Group Therapy

Recovery coaches help individuals or groups during individual or group therapy by providing support and accountability. They offer a non-judgmental ear and can be an important resource for those in recovery. Coaches also help to keep people on track and provide motivation when needed.

Mindfulness Practices

They can help during mindfulness practices for mental health by providing support and guidance. Recovery coaches are not therapists, but they are trained in how to provide support to those who are recovering from addiction or a mental illness. They can help with the practice of mindfulness, which has been shown to be beneficial for those dealing with addiction and mental health issues.


There is a growing trend of using yoga as a form of substance abuse recovery. This is likely because yoga offers many benefits that can be helpful for people in recovery.

Some of these benefits include improving physical health, relieving stress and anxiety, and helping to manage cravings. Yoga can also be used as a way to connect with other people in recovery, which can provide support and encouragement.

If you are considering using yoga as part of your recovery, be sure to speak with your doctor or treatment provider first to ensure it is safe for you.

Physical Fitness and Exercise

Addiction is a complex disease that takes many forms. It can be physical, such as with drug and alcohol addiction, or it can be behavioral, such as with sex or gambling addiction. But no matter what type of addiction someone suffers from, one thing is always true: Addiction destroys lives.

One important way to fight addiction is through physical fitness and exercise. Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are often triggers for addictive behaviors. It can also help improve mental health, which is often impaired in those with addiction. And finally, exercise can help create a healthy lifestyle that can be a powerful defense against relapse.

Of course, starting an exercise program can be difficult, especially for those who are in the throes of addiction. But there are many resources available to help. Recovery coaches, for example, can be a great source of support and motivation. They can help you create a plan to get started, and then they can provide ongoing encouragement as you work to make exercise a part of your life.

Peer Support

Peer support is a critical component of addiction recovery. It involves individuals who have overcome their addictions or are in long-term recovery helping others struggling with addiction. This support can come in many forms, such as providing encouragement, sharing experiences and advice, and simply being there for someone else who is going through the struggles of addiction. Peer support can be an invaluable resource for someone in recovery and can help to keep them on track and motivated.

Nutritional Wellness

There is a growing trend of people turning to holistic methods for addiction recovery. This includes nutritional wellness, which can be an important part of the healing process.

Nutritional wellness involves eating a healthy diet and taking care of your body through proper nutrition. When you’re recovering from addiction, your body is going through a lot of changes. Nutrition can help your body heal and repair itself, and it can also help improve your mood and energy levels.

Art and Music Therapy

Addiction is a complex disease that affects the body, mind, and spirit. It’s a chronic condition that requires ongoing care and support in order to achieve and maintain sobriety. One important way to provide this support is through art and music therapy.

Art and music therapy can help people with addiction in many ways. They can provide a creative outlet for emotions, help process traumas and difficult memories, and promote self-expression and communication. These therapies can also boost self-esteem, build coping skills, and provide a sense of accomplishment. In addition, they can be a fun and enjoyable way to connect with others in recovery.

Outdoor or Recreational Therapy

This is a form of treatment that uses nature and outdoor activities to help people recover from addiction. It can be used as individual therapy, or as part of a group program.

Some of the activities that may be used in outdoor therapy include hiking, camping, swimming, and kayaking. These activities can help people to feel more connected to nature and can provide a sense of calm and tranquility. They can also help to increase fitness levels and reduce stress.

Outdoor therapy can be an effective treatment for substance use disorder because it can help people to reconnect with their natural surroundings. It can also provide a sense of adventure and excitement that can be lacking in other forms of treatment.

Group hiking as part of the outdoor therapy with the recovery coach. They may work with you individually or as part of a multi-disciplinary team of medical and mental health professionals. 

Our recovery coach can introduce us to many new and exciting forms of treatment that can enhance our recovery. Recovery coaches also hold us accountable for sticking with our recovery. Some of these approaches can foster lifelong habits that we can continue to pursue beyond our recovery program. They also work with people over a long period of time, to help them stay on their recovery and build recovery capital. Sometimes we need a guiding hand to understand all of our options to develop a recovery plan that works for us. You can let a recovery coach be that guiding hand for you.

Are you new to recovery or already in a traditional 12-step program? Are you looking for more treatment options and guidance in other areas of life? Do you feel that you are ready to take the next step toward leading a fulfilling life beyond treatment? Recovery coaches can navigate us through the process of finding effective treatment options. Recovery coaches empower us to find the best options that will speak to our individual desires and preferences. They help us to discover our purpose in life beyond treating our addictive behaviors and habits. Camelback Recovery provides recovery coaching free of charge for the first two weeks of stay in our sober living home. We like to provide two weeks of this service for free to help our participants start off on the right track. Call us at (833) 988-4025 to start your recovery today!