Sober companion

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A sober companion, sober coach, or recovery coach are titles all representing the same job in the field of addiction providing one-on-one assistance to newly recovering individuals from addiction to alcohol, drug addiction, gambling addiction, porn addiction, eating disorders – inclusive of all addictions and/or any suffering individual that is currently in the whirling dervish of their addiction in order to protect themselves against further harm as a harm reduction protocol. The goal is to help the client maintain total abstinence or harm reduction from any addiction and to establish healthy routines at home or after checking out of a residential treatment facility. Regulations do not exist for sober companions. Conversely, sober companions may be a part of a whole medical and/or a clinical team of professional(s), may be formally licensed as a mental health professional, or have well-respected experiential experience in the field and may work independently on their own.


Protocols for a sober companion when working with a client, their family and/or friends are established immediately and may include a psychotherapeutic approach, 12-step or non-12 step plan, other outside support groups, help establishing nutrition and fitness daily, medication therapy or holistic practices. The primary duty of a sober coach is to ensure the recovering individual does not relapse. They may be hired to provide round the clock care, be on-call, or to accompany the recovering addict during particular activities.

A companion acts as an advocate for the newly recovering person and provides new ways for the client to act in their own living environment. A sober companion either completely removes the addict from his own environment of hidden stashes, or may search for hidden drugs in their own environment, in an effort to restrain a client to prevent them from relapsing. [1][2]

An engagement with a sober companion usually lasts 30 days or longer. The time required to effect a meaningful change varies greatly depending upon the client, co-occurring disorders, and the family life at home. Ethically, a companion's presence in the client's life will titrate down as the client's ability to connect to newly defined healthy behaviors with family, work, and legal issues without relapse is proven. Some recovery coaches stay with their clients for many months, and some offer only transportation services (for instance, to and from treatment facilities or sober living homes). The sober companion's duties vary from case to case, from simply ensuring the client remains abstinent, establishing and ushering a specific plan of recovered resources and relationships into their home and community.

Sober companions are sometimes hired in cases where an actor or musician will not attend treatment, but must remain abstinent to complete a film or recording project.[3][4][5][6] They are also depicted by some media outlets as "adult babysitters". Conversely, a more responsible and educated response by doctors refer to sober companions as “advocates” for actors, musicians, and other celebrities[4] in order to help save their lives.


There has been controversy between sober companions over the use of drug replacement therapy, the use of prescription drugs to ease withdrawal, cravings or other side effects of long term narcotic and alcohol use. Sober Companions are sometimes used as a replacement for residential addiction treatment or other forms of drug rehabilitation. Doug Caine, founder of Sober Champion, and Dr. Ronald J. Hunsicker, FACATA, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers president and chief executive officer, introduced an alternative perspective in mental health and addiction treatment programs. It was recommend that a combined approach be taken, particularly for people at high risk of relapse. Hunsicker's, speech on “The Challenges for Implementing Evidence- Based Practices in Addiction Treatment"[7] suggested that companions can help a patient successfully transition from a heavily structured, secure environment into the world where he previously failed to stay sober.[1][6] Other experts are skeptical of the companion approach and its dependence on a single individual.[6]

In an effort to further legitimize and reduce intra-industry controversy, the evolution of sober coaching and companioning services is showing to move in a direction of credentialing and expanded clinical training within the scope of mental health services. Examples of this changing tide are becoming more prevalent in the sense that training organizations are now working directly with coaching firms, as is the case with Cali Estes, MS, CAP, ICADC, NCRC, NCIP of The Addictions Coach and its unification with The Addictions Academy. Further, given its non-profit status as well as affiliations with such oversight bodies as NAATP and SAMSHA (US Dept. of Health), there is substantially improved credibility within the coaching sector as a whole.

Experienced and sophisticated sober companions are never seduced by a client's high-profile lifestyle and if they are it can be a deadly impedment to a clients wellness. Many controversies do arise when a sober companion has not had enough life experience to handle these cases ethically jeapordizing a clients life and they have no business working as a sober companion.


There are growing recovery associations (,,,,, and boards established to set standards or monitor the state of the field recovery coaching, that overlap some of the roles of a sober companion. There is no formal sober companion oversight and accountability as yet. Since early in 2011, Faces and Voices in Recovery has been working on developing standards, credentialing and more clearly defined roles of a recovery coach, peer support specialist, and a sober companion. One can see why there is a concern according to the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, as it is a process that is just underway.[1] Treatment Home Healthcare © was developed by The-Scott to include sober companions that are supervised by top-flight clinician(s) and/or doctor(s).


In keeping with several other forms of drug rehabilitation, some sober companions have no formal training or qualification. Most (but not all) companions are recovering addicts who have themselves been able to maintain multiple years of sobriety. While some companions will have some training in psychology, sociology, or medicine, in addition to a strong personal program of recovery, some may have taken the Recovery Coaching certifications offered by Recovery Coaching International ( or the very inexpensive (sometimes free) training offered by the Connecticut Center for Addiction Recovery ( training in a model for peer recovery support specialist roles and responsibilities. A few independent providers, such as Sober Champion require literature study and in-person training by an experienced professional.

The Sociotherapy Association certifies and trains Support Companions, Recovery/Sober Companions, Elderly Companions, and Adolescent Companions. The Sociotherapy Association in America created the Support Companions program to offer real support and relationship to those in need.[8]

Pop culture[edit]

The television series, Elementary depicts Watson as a female sober companion to a modern day Sherlock Holmes.


  1. ^ a b c Mireya Navarro, "A Companion to Protect Addicts From Themselves", New York Times, April 17, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  2. ^ Colleen Mastony, "What's a 'sober companion'?", Chicago Tribune September 18, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  3. ^ Jeannie Park and Robin Miell, People Magazine. January 29, 1990. V. 33 No 4. Accessed August 15, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Mireya Navarro, "A Companion to Protect Addicts From Themselves". April 15, 2007. NYTimes Company NYC. Accessed August 18, 2008.
  5. ^ Hollywood Rag, "Britney in Divorce Court". On Line Entertainment News. Accessed September 13, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c Soden, Blair 2007, "Owen Wilson's Sober Buddy May Help Him Snap Back". ABC News Online. September 17, 2007. Accessed Sept 13, 2008.
  7. ^ "The Challenges for Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Addiction Treatment". Speech by Dr. Ronald J. Hunsicker, FACATA, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers president and chief executive officer. Accessed Oct 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "Sociotherapy Association". Retrieved 5 January 2015.