Recovery coaches play an essential role in addiction recovery. Because they have “walked the walk” of addiction and recovery themselves, they offer irreplaceable advice to recoverees who are just getting started on their recovery journeys.
Colorado needs more recovery coaches. The Colorado Health Institute estimates that 400,000 Colorado residents are currently in recovery from a substance use disorder. When people who are newer in their recovery are paired with a supportive, compassionate and knowledgeable peer coach, they have increased chances of success.
Many recovery coaches go into this work because they recognize the essential role that their own coaches played in their recovery.
No one can beat addiction on their own. Recovery involves a collaborative effort between the person in recovery, the healthcare and legal systems, non-profit organizations and social support systems. Recovery coaches may not be the only solution to improving people’s lives in recovery, but they are vital!
To become a recovery coach in Colorado, one must:
- Participate in mandatory training
- Qualify for credentials set by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) and the Colorado Behavioral Health Council
- Pass a written exam
- Complete the application process and be approved
- Participate in supervised work hours
There are several available options for recovery coach training in the Centennial State. Each training center will have similar basic requirements, but the dates, times, locations, and costs differ from venue to venue.
Many programs offer virtual training, making it easier for people throughout the state and even beyond Colorado to participate. If someone signs up for remote, online training, then it is their responsibility to have unlimited access to reliable internet. Accessing the training via computer is recommended over accessing it through a smartphone.
Recovery coach training is available at the following addiction treatment and recovery organizations:
Recovery coach training prepares applicants for employment and volunteer opportunities as peer recovery coaches. The training is necessary for individuals who want to make a difference by assisting other recoverees to cope with the challenges of sobriety.
Each program will require the following basic prerequisites:
- A High school diploma or GED
- A completed application to the program of the prospective coach’s choice
- At least one full year in recovery
- A lived, personal experience with recovery
The application process for each program is slightly different. Be sure to look closely at the guidelines for each program to determine what they require.
Upon admission to the program, participants must complete all required training courses to be eligible for work and volunteer coaching placements.
Advocates for Recovery defines a peer recovery coach as someone who “identifies an individual’s recovery capital, assists in setting goals and identifies actions necessary to attain those goals while building a positive social support network in the community.”
In addition to providing training for coaches, Advocates for Recovery employs qualified coaches, participates in national and statewide recovery support and advocacy and offers all-recovery meetings.
They also hosted the 2022 Colorado Rally for Recovery, which brought thousands of people together to celebrate the accomplishments of those in recovery and encourage people in active recovery to seek help from the state’s resources and programs.
Because Advocates for Recovery Colorado does not publish its training guidelines online, prospective coaches should reach out to Advocates for Recovery Colorado to learn about the coaches’ training that they offer.
EmbarkPCA facilitates CCAR Recovery Coach Training and Education courses, mainly in the form of virtual events. In addition to CCAR training, EmbarkPCA also offers CHOICES training. CHOICES is offered in Spanish and English.
Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) training is one of the nation’s most widely recognized and reputable recovery coaching programs. It is facilitated by partner organizations like EmbarkPCA.
Training through EmbarkPCA costs $975 for Colorado residents and $1175 for all other participants.
This registration covers:
- 30 hours of CCAR’s Recovery Coach Academy (RCA) program
- 16 hours of ethical consideration training
- 12 hours of professionalism & coaching training
- 12 hours of spirituality and coaching training
Additional information about the qualifications available for individuals who have completed 70 hours of IC&RC training can be found on the EmbarkPCA website.
EmbarkPCA also offers:
- 28 hours of Continuing Accredited Education for $350
- A Six-hour Recovery Coaching Basics course for $125
- A 12-hour Recovery Coaching in the Emergency Department course for $250
- A 24-hour Advanced Recovery Coaching course for $500
After completing the programs, participants will need to work or volunteer for 500 hours. Twenty-five of those hours must be directly supervised. Participants must also pass a written exam and pay an application fee.
CHOICES training is also approved by COPA and CPFS, as well as NAADAC for NCPRSS.
The cost is $675 per person. It includes 60 hours of Accredited Education in the following categories:
- 30 hours of CHOICES Peer Recovery Coach training
- 12 hours of CHOICES Ethical Foundations
- Six hours of CHOICES Motivational Interviewing
- Six hours of CHOICES Suicide Prevention for Non-Clinical Settings
- SIx hours of CHOICES HIV & Bloodborne Pathogens
More classes are available for additional fees, including coursework for Benzodiazepine Concerns, Problem Gambling, Strengthening Your Suicide Conversation, Recovery Coach Training for Christians, and Recovery Coach Training in the Spanish Language.
The CMWN program is highly competitive. Applicants must prepare a stellar application that demonstrates dedication to the idea of peer recovery coaching. CMWN emphasizes passion and excellence in its application guidelines.
The application includes:
- Meeting the minimum specified requirements of the program
- Finding a training date that fits your schedule
- A written application, submitted online, with thorough and thoughtful answers
- A third-party letter of reference (no treatment providers or family references allowed)
Applicants are prioritized for acceptance if they have already worked or volunteered in peer support.
Applications are reviewed within two-three weeks of the deadline. If you are accepted, you will pay your deposit and document that you have sponsorship from a recovery organization or Colorado’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).
This program would cost more than $900, but CMWN is the recipient of substantial grant funding from organizations that view this work as essential and meaningful. That brings the total for the training down to $450, which includes the non-refundable $40 deposit that is due to hold your spot after being admitted to the program.
DVR-authorized participants will have their fees paid by the DVR. Sometimes, organizations will pay for their volunteer or paid recovery coaches to go through CMWN training. If that is the case, the organization may be invoiced directly.
CMWN training is currently taking place virtually. Participants must have consistent internet access in order to participate in all of the sessions. Because Google Classroom and Zoom are both utilized by trainers, trainees need to be able to navigate these programs.
Applicants who are not accepted into the program may request to be added to a waitlist for future sessions. This training prepares candidates to take the IC&RC credentialing exam. It does not provide the 500 hours of work time, the supervision for work time, or the credential itself.
Recovery coaches are a vital part of the story for countless recoverees. Individuals in the early stages of recovery benefit from having the support of someone who has been through it themselves.
Recovery coaches can serve as volunteers or seek employment in settings such as:
- Hospital networks
- Emergency departments
- Non-profit organizations
- Recovery programs
- Medical clinics
- Child & Family Services
- Churches and ministries
This is an excellent career for individuals in recovery who want to contribute to the success of others. When you know how challenging it is to navigate life in recovery, it can be fulfilling to help others get there, too.
Recovery coaches are not therapists, clinicians or mental health professionals. They are people who have personal, lived experience with addiction, sobriety, and recovery. They want to pursue a career that allows them to make a difference with their time.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes recovery coaches within the broader classification of community health workers. Community health workers aid communities in becoming healthier by providing them with information, education and advocacy.
The mean hourly wage for a community health worker is $22.97. This comes to an annual mean wage of $47,780. The average hourly salary for a recovery coach in Colorado is $19.94, with some positions reaching close to $35 an hour.
Recovery coaching is a meaningful and important career. This work helps individuals, their families and our communities. Colorado needs recovery coaches, and getting the appropriate training is the first step to filling one of these crucial roles.