Massachusetts—like other states across the country—has gotten creative in its response to the toll that addiction is taking on our families and communities. Recovery coaching, offered at Peer Recovery Support Centers and in some emergency rooms, is one creative strategy that is helping many people stay on the recovery path. Recovery coaching is a unique role, best described by someone who does the work every day.
Dan Foley works as a Recovery coach with the H.E.A.R.T. Program (Hospital Emergency Action Recovery Coach Team), a new program based out of A New Way Recovery Center in Quincy. This recovery community, one of ten across the state certified by the MA Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, is part of the Massachusetts Peer Participatory Process Model. In this model, “people engage one another through lived experience, accepting all paths of recovery in order to build healthy relationships and empower peers to become productive members of society”. The H.E.A.R.T. Program has a Recovery Coach on call at all times, so that when someone overdoses and is sent to a nearby hospital, a Recovery Coach can be there to meet with them within an hour. Here is Dan’s experience in his words:
“A Recovery Coach is different from a sponsor or health care provider because a Recovery Coach is a peer, an advocate, and an educator, as well as a motivating role model that encourages all paths to recovery. We try to make a lasting impression and create enthusiasm for recovery. We offer hope and non-judgmental support.
I was brought to recovery coaching when I was trying to find a career that would keep recovery front and center for me, while also helping others in recovery. I attended the Recovery Coach Academy, and loved every minute of the training, and also learned just how successful Recovery Coach programs were in Connecticut and Rhode Island. I knew that this program was desperately needed in our area.
My motivation as a Recovery Coach comes from the hope that it gives people, and witnessing the positive changes that occur within those in recovery. I hope to make an authentic connection, and to figure out their path in recovery with them. I say it all the time actually, that we are not so much Recovery Coaches as we are Recovery Cheerleaders, but that would look silly on our badges. Our role is to help them figure out their path of recovery by providing them with the right resources.
I think that someone would want help from a Recovery Coach because they are overwhelmed by their addiction as well as by recovery. A Recovery Coach can help to simplify things. We enter someone’s life at a point when they are typically at one of their lowest points emotionally. People tend to be more open with a peer who has lived experience, both with addiction as well as recovery. I believe this is why the Recovery Coach model has proven to be successful in other states. We show them that we care, and that they are worth a good life in recovery.”
A huge thank you to Dan Foley for sharing his experience with The Helpline for this blog!