How To Become a Recovery Coach in Connecticut

Addiction is a national issue that federal and state governments, as well as the healthcare industry, have been working to address for years. Addiction transcends social class, financial stability and mental health. The most talked about cases of addiction stem from substance abuse, whether in the form of drugs or alcohol. But addiction can also be rooted in gambling, sex, food, and tobacco.

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What Does a Recovery Coach Do?

Recovery coaches are often individuals who have struggled with addiction and sobriety themselves. Having a background and experience in addiction can help recovery coaches guide others toward a healthier lifestyle. However, history as an addict isn’t necessary – anyone seeking to help others with addiction can become a recovery coach in Connecticut.

Addiction goes beyond chemical dependency, which can often be treated with medication. Addiction also involves emotions, personal habits and lifestyle changes. Recovery coaches support their clients – those struggling with addiction – and provide tools and guidance to help them overcome obstacles. There are many ways to go about supporting an addict, including:

  • Creating a plan of action
  • Navigating the medical system
  • Providing accountability as well as support
  • Providing an outside perspective
  • Connecting the client to resources
  • Tracking progress
  • Being there to listen to their struggles

A career as a recovery coach can be both rewarding and draining, so if you’re considering this path, be ready for both highs and lows.

Peer Recovery Coach vs. Recovery Coach: What’s the Difference?

The term “peer recovery coach” is used interchangeably with “recovery coach.” Both titles encompass the same type of work listed above. However, peer recovery coaches are individuals who struggle with addiction themselves and have been sober for a minimum of one year. Many professionals see this history of addiction as a way for peer recovery coaches to fully understand and better help their clients. Still, it isn’t a requirement of the position.

Individuals who have not struggled with addiction can also become recovery coaches. Both peer recovery coaches and recovery coaches complete the same training and must meet the same qualifications. Peer recovery coaches who participate in addiction counseling and groups may find it easier to meet clients.

Qualifications to Become a Recovery Coach

While qualifications for becoming a recovery coach vary state by state, in Connecticut, the minimum requirements are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • If an individual has a history of addiction, they must be sober for a minimum of one year

Steps To Take to Become a Recovery Coach in Connecticut

The state of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services supports the Advocacy Unlimited Inc. Recovery Support Specialist Training and Certification program for those interested in becoming recovery coaches (also known as support specialists). Interested parties should know that there is an application fee and other fees associated with materials and certification.

Advocacy Unlimited Inc.’s program takes place over a total of 80 hours. It is Connecticut’s only authorized program to certify recovery coaches. Graduates of the course are state certified to offer services. Connecticut utilizes this program to ensure that principles, core competencies and a code of ethics are all endorsed and followed statewide. The program is also in alignment with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Association for Addiction Professionals.

To attend Advocacy Unlimited Inc.’s program, follow these steps:

  1. Determine which course start date works best for you
  2. Download and fill out the application form
  3. Pay the $25 application processing fee
  4. Upon acceptance, pay the $100 training fee due by the first date of the course
  5. On completion of the course, take the Certification Exam. This exam has a $75 fee.

Once you are certified as a Recovery Coach in Connecticut, you can also attend continuing education courses through the same program. Certification requires 60 hours of continuing education every three years.

Advocacy Unlimited Inc.’s courses include the following:

  • Foundations for RSS
  • Sharing Your Recovery History
  • Effecting & Empathic Communication
  • Partnering, Boundaries, & Ethical Considerations
  • Intentional Peer Support
  • Wellness Recovery Action Planning
  • Working with Families & Groups
  • Legislation & Legal Issues

What Kind of Job can a Recovery Coach Get?

Recovery coaches are often needed in behavioral healthcare organizations, including private recovery institutions and hospitals. The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services regularly offers positions for Recovery Support Specialists. Additionally, Advocacy Unlimited Inc. keeps an updated list of job opportunities and open positions on its website.

While telehealth has become more popular recently, much of a recovery coach’s job takes place in person. They may have regularly scheduled visits, calls or video chats, or they may be called to a client’s location to offer support and act as a “sober companion.” Recovery coaches can also provide support to an addict’s family. Depending on whether you work for an institution or decide to approach coaching on your own terms, scheduling and commitment can vary. Both full and part-time positions are available.

What is the Outlook for a Career in Recovery Coaching?

As the healthcare industry grows, so will the need for recovery coaches and support specialists. Addiction is a severe problem in the United States, with 700,000 drug overdose deaths alone in the US since the year 2000. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, just over 28 million Americans have an alcohol abuse disorder.

Unfortunately, these statistics show a need for more recovery coaches in the workforce. The average hourly wage for a recovery coach in Connecticut is around $19.50 an hour; the average annual pay is just over $40,000. However, this amount can vary depending on where a recovery coach is employed. Institutions such as addiction recovery programs and hospitals are likely to pay more. 

Connecticut Recovery Coach Programs and Resources

Advocacy Unlimited, Inc.

Advocacy Unlimited Inc.’s Recovery Support Specialist Training and Certification program is a state-supported program that provides training for anyone interested in becoming a recovery coach. Recovery Support Specialist (RSS) training takes place on a rolling schedule, so interested individuals should check out their website for more information on upcoming course start dates and registration deadlines.

Additionally, Advocacy Unlimited Inc. also offers continued education. This is necessary for recovery support specialists, who must maintain a minimum of 60 hours of continuing education every three years to stay certified.

Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery (CCAR)

CCAR is an organization in Connecticut dedicated to recovery within the community. This program reaches out not only to those struggling with addiction and in the process of recovery but also to family members and friends. CCAR’s mission is to help recovering individuals navigate the system to get the highest level of support possible.

For those interested in becoming recovery coaches, CCAR has two distinct programs. The Emergency Department Program, launched in 2017, guarantees that patients admitted to an ED due to drug or alcohol-related crises will have access to recovery coaches. This program currently operates in 22 emergency departments in the state of Connecticut.

CCAR also operates within the Department of Corrections as of 2020. This program works with eight DOC facilities to connect recovery coaches with returning citizens within one to three months of discharge. The goal of recovery coaches in this program is to help citizens transition back into the community.

For prospective recovery coaches looking for training programs, CCAR’s Advanced Academy for Recovery Coaches provides RSS classes, manuals and support in the certification process. As of 2022, the Advanced Academy is new on the scene of recovery coach training, and guidance from local certification boards should be obtained when looking for certification. By attending CCAR’s program, students will attain 30 CECs; however, CCAR notes that other requirements, such as working hours and expanded topics, may need to be sought out elsewhere.

NAADAC Peer Recovery Support Specialist Certification

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, is a group comprised of educators, addiction counselors and other healthcare professionals nationwide. Their reach extends from the United States to Canada and abroad to other countries.

The NAADAC offers a National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist program that gives individuals who have experienced addiction and are currently sober the opportunity to become peer coaches. This program has several benefits, including endorsement by Optum as a reimbursed credential and high ethical standards in this career category.

This program has several fees associated with it that prospective students should be aware of before applying. Eligible students over the age of 18 must have the following:

  • A high school diploma, GED or higher education
  • A minimum of two years of recovery from substance use and/or mental health disorders
  • Evidence of earning 60 contact and training hours of peer recovery-focused education and training
  • A minimum of 200 hours of direct practice (volunteer or paid) in a peer recovery support environment
  • Two references

Upon completing the program, students must pass the written examination of 125 multiple-choice questions. The NAADAC also provides a list of suggested test preparation materials and a testing schedule.