How to Become a Recovery Coach in Georgia

Recovery coaching involves strengths-based support for those suffering from addictions or in recovery from drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, and other addictive behaviors. A recovery coach is a form of peer support for people with active addictions and those already in recovery. 

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What is a Recovery Coach? 

A recovery coach determines the person’s strengths and what they already do well. Recovery coaching focuses on teaching others to sharpen the tools they have instead of teaching them a completely new tool. This makes it easier to transition into a lifestyle of recovery since they are practicing what already works for them. 

A recovery coach assists their client to recover and become stable by maintaining the gains they achieved during treatment. Some people will go to treatment for 30 to 90 days and spend thousands of dollars to get clean and sober. It can be challenging, especially for those recovering from anxiety or clinical depression. They need a gentle transition from intensive treatment to outpatient treatment a few times a week. Seeing their therapist once a week is not enough.

Many people need someone to touch base with, and the recovery coach serves this purpose. They help solidify and integrate new coping skills or lifestyle behaviors. Coaches ensure people are aware of their actions so they don’t fall back into old habits. They also help the individual identify environmental triggers and how to address them. Triggers vary from one person to another. Recovery coaches help clients improve their performance and set and achieve goals to enhance their quality of life.

What Does a Recovery Coach Do? 

Recovery coaches do not diagnose physical or mental health issues or addictions. However, they are trained to be alert to their symptoms and can refer clients to primary health care providers, mental health practitioners, or substance abuse facilities. If the coach believes the person needs to be in a treatment program, they will refer them since they are not trained to handle such issues or make a diagnosis.

Recovery coaches are designed to keep the client going once they have achieved momentum from treatment. They help people explore their wants, needs, and choices and help them get clarity. Coaches point out the discrepancies between choices and desires. This way, the client will see how their behaviors can be self-sabotaging and even downright destructive.

The Recovery Coach’s Scope of Practice     

A recovery coach’s scope of practice includes but is not limited to the following duties:

  • Get permission from the client to offer information and provide resources
  • Ask questions to understand the client’s life experiences and for information clarification
  • Be knowledgeable about 12-step programs and other recovery models, including moderation management, harm reduction, and faith-based abstinence
  • Use skills such as active listening, asking questions, and effective communication with the client
  • Set up productive working partnerships with participants. Help participants develop confidence and motivation through encouragement. Remind the client that making positive changes takes time and recovery is a process, not merely a destination.
  • Work together with the client to develop a wellness recovery plan. List the client’s life and recovery goals. Review several options with the client to help them determine what options work best. Keep in mind that these goals are measurable, attainable, and rewarding to the client.
  • Brainstorm with the client to address potential barriers to achieving goals
  • Provide lists of community resources for the client and help them figure out which ones best fit their needs

How to Determine if Someone Needs a Recovery Coach

Working with a recovery coach may be beneficial for someone who wants to be able to choose the types of issues they want to work on. Coaches offer encouragement for setting goals to help solve problems in practical ways. However, this may not be the perfect fit for someone who is looking for additional guidance and not much of a self-directed relationship.

Although a recovery coach is someone a client can confide in and trust with personal concerns and information, they are not qualified to offer counseling services. Recovery coaches meet with recovering addicts to know if they are a good fit for coaching services. The recovery coach will refer them to someone if further counseling is needed.

Differences Between a Recovery Coach and an Addiction Counselor

The majority of people working as addiction counselors hold a bachelor’s degree. To work in private practice, they must be licensed according to state requirements. 

Role of Addiction Counselors

Addiction counselors meet clients during individual or group therapy sessions and provide clients with the needed tools for dealing with interpersonal problems. Some counselors utilize the principles of the 12-step programs such as AA to emphasize their points when dealing with their clients. Still, others use different treatment approaches such as: 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of treatment teaches clients to change their negative thoughts into positive ones. Once positive thoughts are present, positive behavior easily follows. Clients are taught to identify these negative thoughts that could lead to drinking or drug use and how to replace them with different ones. 

Contingency management. Positive reinforcement is given when the client abstains from using drugs. When a slip or relapse occurs, positive reinforcement is not given. Instead, the client is punished. Consequences are made to fit the behavior. 

Family therapy. Since addiction can affect anyone, including the addict’s family, there are times when the client’s family also benefits from meeting the addiction counselor. It is not unusual for an addict’s family to have struggled for many years before the family member goes into treatment. Family therapy helps by offering counseling services to family members individually, then meeting as a unit to discuss important issues. 

How to Determine the Need for an Addiction Counselor

Anyone going through drug and alcohol addiction treatment will likely need an addiction counselor. Many treatment facilities have them on staff to provide individual and group therapy to clients. 

They work with a highly effective treatment model aimed at the underlying cause of addiction. Addiction never springs out of nowhere. Instead, it develops due to someone avoiding some type of pain or emotional issue.

When addicts learn to cope using healthy and positive ways to deal with emotional issues, they become less likely to go back to their old coping methods to deal with overwhelming emotions in the future. Facing old hurts and dealing with them head-on will strip them of their power. This is a crucial part of the client’s healing process. 

Requirements to Become a Recovery Coach in Georgia

General Screening Criteria

Certified Addictions Recovery Empowerment Specialist:

  • GED or High School diploma
  • Two years of recovery

Certified Peer Recovery Coach:

  • Employment or residency in Georgia at least 51% of the time
  • Three years of continuous and ongoing recovery from alcohol and drugs

Exam Criteria

Certified Addictions Recovery Empowerment Specialist: Written examination

Certified Peer Recovery Coach: Computer-based examination

Certification Requirements

Certified Addictions Recovery Empowerment Specialist:

  • Two reference letters
  • Group interview
  • Passing score on a written examination
  • 40-hour CARES Academy

Certified Peer Recovery Coach:

  • A personal statement stating they have been in recovery for at least three years
  • 500 hours of practical experience specific to CPRC domains
  • 50 hours of supervision within the domains
  • 100 hours of substance use disorders education
  • Three recovery references
  • Passing score on the examination
  • Signature on the Code of Professional Ethics Form

Training Criteria

Certified Addictions Recovery Empowerment Specialist: 

  • 40 hours worth of training

Certified Peer Recovery Coach:

100 hours worth of training broken down to:

  • 16 hours in ethical responsibility
  • 10 hours in education/mentoring
  • 10 hours in advocacy
  • 10 hours in recovery support
  • 54 hours relevant to the competencies of CPRCs


Certified Addictions Recovery Empowerment Specialist: Tuition is free

Certified Peer Recovery Coach:

  • Application fee: $150
  • Exam fee: $180
  • Recertification fee: $150

Competencies to become a Certified Peer Recovery Coach: 

  • Advocacy
  • Ethical responsibility
  • Recovery support
  • Mentoring/Education

Recovery Coach Salaries in Georgia

As of September 7, 2022, the average annual pay for recovery coaches in Georgia was $26,213. That breaks down to $12.60 hourly, $540 weekly or $2,184 monthly. Most recovery coach salaries presently range between $21,278 and $28,242. Top earners in the 90th percentile make $32,498 annually in Georgia. 

The average pay range for recovery coaches greatly varies (as much as $6,964), suggesting plenty of opportunities for advancement and increased pay depending on skill level, years of experience and location. Georgia ranks 48 out of 50 states nationwide regarding recovery coach salaries. 

Here are the top 10 cities where Georgia’s typical recovery coach’s annual salary is above average. At number one is Sandy Springs, with an annual salary of $34,684, and Atlanta and Macon are close behind with $33,628 and $32,882, respectively. Roswell, Lumpkin, and Zebulon follow with $32,703, $31,955, and $31,556. The other four on the list are Oglethorpe with $31,395, Comer with $30,403, Augusta with $29,983, and Warner Robins with $29,974.