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Recovery Coaching at Encore: How It Benefits Our Patients

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When a person moves from drug and alcohol addiction treatment into recovery, it can seem like the path ahead is uphill and filled with barriers, cliffs, and potholes. In other words, it’s daunting. Recovery coaching is similar to having a trail guide for that path, someone who can give you the confidence of knowing you won’t get lost, help you avoid the potholes and rocks in the way, and tell you about the path that you are on and what is around it. Encore’s drug and alcohol recovery coaching in Virginia is designed to do just that, coach people into recovery.

Recovery coaching offers assistance and support from someone who has been in recovery for a long time and can share what they have learned. A recovery coach understands and remembers exactly what it felt like to be standing in their patients’ shoes. We use that understanding to support and guide our patients in their next steps. Our patients know we have been where they are and learned what we needed to create healthy, productive, and enjoyable lives.

Recovery Coaching Process

Typically, we meet individually with our patients every week, beginning when the patient comes into treatment at Encore. At the start of coaching, we work on developing a rapport and a foundation of trust with our patients. Our goal is to give patients support and tools for their lives in recovery. We act as guides to help them:

  • Picture what their lives in recovery will look like
  • Create goals and a plan to reach those goals
  • Identify the challenges they may face and figure out strategies to overcome them
  • Help them find the resources they need for ongoing support

We’re also mentors; having experienced substance use disorder and living in recovery, we understand on a deep level what patients are going through and what they face as they leave treatment to begin their lives in recovery. That understanding enables us to help patients:

  • Sort out the confusing feelings that come up in treatment and as the end of treatment nears
  • Identify challenges they will face in recovery and make a plan to resolve those challenges
  • Identify the strengths they can use to build a healthy life in recovery

Benefits of Recovery Coaching

Support: We start working with patients very soon after they start drug and alcohol addiction treatment so we can get to know them, understand their particular issues and struggles, and begin early to identify the supports they will need. We also offer them a safe place to describe what they are going through and provide support.

Empathy: Patients don’t need to explain to us how they are feeling or the issues they are wrestling with because we have been through it ourselves. For example, a patient once was trying to describe what it felt like trying to be sober and couldn’t quite explain. They kept saying, “It sounds crazy, but…” And I got it. I said, “It’s like an itchiness, a boredom.” “Yes, exactly!” We talked about that feeling, and I explained how I dealt with it and ways the patient could resolve that feeling.

Occasionally, things come up that we haven’t been through or may not understand. We have each other to turn to and an interdisciplinary staff of treatment experts here at Encore to help.

Individualized recommendations: Coaching is not one size fits all. We take into careful consideration what each patient needs from us. Because we meet with our patients over the time they are in drug and alcohol addiction treatment — generally from five to eight months or longer — we get to know them on a deep level and understand their situation and what they need to support them in their recovery. Recovery groups are a good example. If AA isn’t right for a patient, we can recommend another group that would be a better fit. Some patients need help to find sober living options while others may ask us to talk through issues with their family members and explore how to make living at home work.

Connection to resources: Before our patients leave Encore, we work with them to ensure they have supports in place—a sponsor, a network of others in recovery they can connect to, recovery groups like AA or Smart Recovery to attend. We have lived and worked in the Metro DC area for a long time so we have in-depth knowledge of the resources and connections that are available and bring this knowledge to the patients at Encore. And, of course, we have the alumni activities and group right here at Encore to offer.

How Recovery Coaching Fits into Encore’s Treatment Philosophy

Encore Outpatient Services takes an interdisciplinary approach to drug and alcohol addiction treatment that includes treating not only the addiction, but the co-occurring disorders, like anxiety, depression, and trauma, as well. That approach enables us to do a better job with our coaching. Because we work with therapists and other specialists on staff, like a nutritionist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, we have a comprehensive understanding of our patients’ needs.

With this integrated, team approach, our patients get well-rounded, in-depth treatment and support while they are here. That support extends beyond the time they are here. We encourage alumni to let us know how they are doing, to share their successes and reach out for help when they are struggling. We have the privilege of seeing the progress they are making and the productive and rewarding lives in recovery they are creating.

By: Hebe Boyett and Ivan Vidakovic

Hebe Boyett is a certified substance abuse counselor assistant (CSAC-A) who uses the knowledge she has gained from 17 years in recovery. Ivan Vidakovic has worked in the substance abuse field since 2017, sharing his experiences as someone with five years in recovery.

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