How to Become a Certified Recovery Coach in Alabama

A recovery coach supports addicts in quitting substance use and overcoming its adverse effects. They work with patients receiving addiction treatment at a rehab facility or elsewhere in local communities. As a recovery coach, you’ll encourage your clients and show them how to keep going until they’re no longer substance-dependent. 

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A peer mentor or support specialist is a recovery coach who uses their addiction recovery experience to assist others on the journey from a substance use disorder. It’s a potentially fulfilling career for those recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, with an inspiring success story worth sharing. Peer support specialists can specialize in mentoring adults, the youth or parents of an addicted child.

As a recovery coach, you’ll be providing non-clinical support services to individuals that may be struggling with addiction. Whether working for a community agency or peer-run organization, your job will entail motivating addicts to develop and follow personalized plans to achieve long-term sobriety. Coaching sessions can be one-on-one or with a group of people with a substance abuse problem.

You’ll be helping addicts before, during, or after treatment recognize and overcome various obstacles to recovery, such as relapse, isolation, and lack of employment. Some of them may find it difficult to re-establish lost family or community connections, re-discover basic living skills or build sufficient self-esteem to play a meaningful role in society. Their journey to sobriety is often much smoother with the empowerment and leadership of an individual who has been there before.

Recovering addicts may need your assistance accessing various resources, including essentials like treatment, housing, food and clothing. Be prepared to work with drug courts and rehabilitation centers or help addicts satisfy criminal justice requirements. It would be best if you have successfully coped with most of these issues yourself by the time you become a certified peer support specialist or recovery coach in Alabama. Your experience can provide valuable lessons to addicts in recovery who look up to you.

Steps to Become a Recovery Coach in Alabama

The basic requirement to become a certified recovery coach in Alabama is a high school education (preferably a diploma or GED) and some work experience in recovery support. Professional training and certification are necessary to boost your resume and income potential in this occupation.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH)  has endorsed multiple certified peer support specialist courses that produce recovery coaches. However, state-sponsored certification isn’t mandatory to get started in this field.

If you’re interested in a peer recovery coach career, you should recall that sharing your prior experiences with drug addiction or a mental disorder isn’t always easy. However, you should overcome such stigma and be open-minded about telling your inspiring personal recovery story with all its struggles and successes. It’s a vital mindset to be more effective in your role as a peer support specialist in Alabama. 

Other general certification requirements for recovery coaches in Alabama include:

  • Recovery experience (for peer support specialists)
  • Passing a recognized exam
  • At least two references

Alabama Recovery Coach Training Options

The Council on Substance Abuse (COSA-NCADD)

The ADMH has designated the Council on Substance Abuse (COSA-NCADD) as the official provider of certified recovery support specialist (CRSS) training under the Office of Peer Programs. Anybody can enroll in the programs, although the ADMH prioritizes individuals with a supportive role in addiction, be it administrative, technical or clinical.

The state’s peer-driven recovery courses cover various topics such as substance use recovery, empowerment, consumer rights and coping skills. Trainees also learn about care systems for addicts, group facilitation and communication (oral and written). You must be conversant in these areas to earn your state certification.

Other requirements to become a state-certified recovery coach in Alabama include:

  • Acknowledging your history of substance use and any related mental disorder
  • A minimum of 2 years of continuous addiction recovery (meaning no periods of relapse within this period)
  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Passing a written exam with 125 questions and a minimum score of 70
  • Providing two references
  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Completing 40 hours of education in an ADMH-approved peer support specialist course

If you’re employed full-time and considering joining the program, you should clear your calendar for a week since the training lasts five days, each with evening sessions. Similarly, make some time for homework and preparations for the final certification exam.

You must adhere to the state’s standards of ethics to keep your recovery coach certification. An ethical committee is in place to receive complaints and take appropriate action in case of violations. Also, you must be recertified in 16 continuing education (CE) units each year.   

If you enroll in any state-sponsored recovery coach certification programs in Alabama, the ADMH will cover your training costs. Other covered expenses include hotel accommodation and meals, so you don’t have to pay for anything out-of-pocket to get your certificate.  

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama

Anybody with a Windows or Mac computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader and an up-to-date browser can apply to this online Professional Recovery Coach course. The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama offers the interactive program in conjunction with Education To Go (ed2go). Although it’s a 60-hour program, you have up to six months to complete it after signing up.

The training, which costs $1,650, prepares you to work closely with addicts in recovery and their families. One of its objectives is to help you understand the relationship between addiction and the brain and the neuroscience behind practical recovery strategies.

The International Association of Peer Supporters (INAOPS) endorsed part of the coursework. When you complete training, you may qualify for the International Association of Professional Recovery Coaches (IAPRC) certification.

Not One More Alabama (NOMA)

NOMA is a non-profit that offers peer coaching services to parents impacted by a family member with a substance use problem. It partnered with the Center on Addiction/Partnership for Drugfree and the Center for Motivation and Change Foundation for Change to launch this program in Alabama.

Some families that receive support from the organization have a child currently in recovery, using, or that has died of a complication related to drug or alcohol addiction. All its parent coaches are volunteers who have had an addicted family member.

If you’re interested in volunteering as a parent coach with NOMA, you should apply to the two-day course that the non-profit occasionally provides in locations such as Huntsville. The program focuses on various issues that affected parents deal with day-to-day, including grief after losing a loved one to addiction and navigating the system of care for addicts. Training is free, but you must complete at least six months of volunteer parent coaching with the Partnership for Drugfree and another year for NOMA.  

You’ll receive additional training every other week during your stint as a parent coach at NOMA. Your volunteer work will include providing personalized, one-on-one mentorship to other parents over the phone.

Becoming a National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS)

Many employers in Alabama often recognize recovery coach credentials from outside the state, especially national certifications. One such option for peer mentors looking to upgrade their professional coaching resume is the NCPRSS, which is offered by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

Like an ADMH-certified recovery coach, an NCPRSS is a peer mentor who harnesses their own addiction recovery experience to help others successfully navigate similar struggles. Note that the NCPRSS isn’t an entry-level qualification for recovery coaches. To earn the certificate, your professional CV must include 200 hours of supervised paid or volunteer work in the peer support field.

The credential is only available to individuals who have completed at least 48 hours of addiction recovery training and a minimum of six hours of ethics education. Knowledge of common infections to which substance users are highly vulnerable, including HIV, is mandatory for candidates applying for the NCPRSS certificate.  

You must take and pass the NAADAC peer recovery support written test of 125 multiple-choice questions to earn your NCPRSS certificate. The testing fee is $150 (candidates also pay a separate credential fee of $235). This certification is renewable every two years for $200.

Working as a Recovery Coach in Alabama: What to Expect

As a trained or future peer support specialist or recovery coach, you can work for any organization with an addiction recovery program, such as the University of Alabama (UAB) hospital. For this role, many employers in the state hire people with just a high school diploma or GED, provided they’re in recovery and willing to commence professional training immediately. Numerous employment opportunities await you at non-profits, drug rehabilitation centers, emergency rooms, doctor’s offices and other organizations throughout Alabama.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies peer support specialists and recovery coaches as community health workers and education specialists. It estimates that they earn a mean salary of $42,030 annually and $20.21 hourly. Between 2020 and 2030, this professional group had one of the fastest projected growth rates across the nation (17%).