Recovery coaches play an important role in substance abuse recovery programs. Addiction recovery is a complex field in which mental health professionals, community organizations, governmental agencies and volunteers work together to improve outcomes for individuals and communities. A recovery coach is someone who has made progress in their own recovery and is now ready to help others.
Because recovery coaches have already made progress in their recovery, they have unique insights into how others can be supported in their journeys. In Maine, recovery coaches are needed to fill peer support roles in multiple settings such as hospitals, court-appointed programs, non-profit organizations, emergency departments, treatment clinics and more.
The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) at the Department of Health and Human Services in Maine affirms the value of peer support in effective mental health and recovery treatment. Community services are available through the Maine Recovery Hub, and peer recovery certification is available through the Maine Recovery Coach Certification Board (MRCCB).
The Maine Recovery Hub is operated by the Portland Recovery Community Center. The hub believes in working “to develop a statewide network of peer recovery support services, recovery coaches, public education, prevention efforts and advocacy.”
The Maine Recovery Hub coordinates the work of 17 recovery community centers and seeks to:
- Offer guidance to communities that want to open a recovery center
- Develop the necessary infrastructure to create new recovery coaching academics, continuing education units (CEUs) and more
- Provide guidance for recovery coaches to go through the process of Maine Board Certification
- Maintain statewide data on substance abuse recovery
- Maintain lists of resources related to substance abuse, treatment and recovery
- Prevent drug abuse by providing Prime for Life classes
Community Centers are just one of the many places where recovery coaches can work and volunteer. The Maine Recovery Hub centralizes the resources available to people in active and ongoing recovery.
The Maine Recovery Hub also offers Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR)-certified classes for Maine residents. Individuals interested in working as addiction recovery coaches can seek guidance from the Maine Recovery Hub.
The Maine Recovery Hub offers a one-day Recovery Coach Basics course to help potential coaches understand their role in recovery. These sessions last from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and are held several times yearly at locations throughout the state.
This one-day program helps individuals discover if recovery coaching is a good option for them to pursue. If it is, they can continue to work with the Maine Recovery Hub to take the next steps in certification.
The next option is to participate in a Recovery Coach Academy program. These are held virtually for five days. The time frame is 10:00 am to 2:30 pm and includes a lunch break. The Recovery Coach Academy program is currently free to take. Note that classes may fill up, so watch the website for updates about available virtual training workshops.
Because recovery coaches are expected to continue their education beyond initial certification, the Maine Recovery Hub also offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Participants must have completed the Recovery Coach Academy before enrolling in any Continuing Education classes.
Some additional training opportunities from the Recovery Hub are:
- Recovering coaching in the emergency department (two-day workshop)
- Ethical considerations (three-day workshop)
- Recovery Coach support and supervision
After completing this training, candidates are ready to begin their supervised coaching experiences. These experiences and continuing education opportunities prepare recovery coaches for certification from the Maine Recovery Coach Certification Board.
Another essential resource for Maine’s recovery coaches and aspiring recovery coaches is the Maine Recovery Coach Certification Board.
The MRCCB’s mission is “To standardize and promote best practice qualifications for Peer Recovery Coaches in Maine by defining and maintaining the highest standards of professional practice and ethics across volunteer and employment capacities.”
Under the guidance of a Board of Directors with extensive experience in addiction treatment and recovery, the MRCCB helps recovery coaches provide essential services to others in recovery.
The MRCCB also provides a governing Code of Ethics that Maine’s certified recovery coaches must abide by. Among other guidelines, the Code of Ethics requires coaches to commit to 26 standards related to:
- Treating peers with dignity, kindness and respect
- Supporting others as they make their own choices
- Honoring the multiple pathways of recovery rather than insisting on one solution for all
- Prioritize one’s own recovery at all times and seek self-care and support
- Modeling recovery-driven behaviors
- Refusing to misuse any substances that could impair behavior or judgment
- Communicating consistently and appropriately with supervisors
- Abiding by the standards set by appropriate governing bodies
- Avoiding inappropriate relationships with those in recovery
- Maintaining strong boundaries with others in recovery
- Avoiding conflicts of interest
This Code of Ethics is an essential element of recovery coaching. One cannot provide meaningful, significant recovery support to others if high standards of ethics go unmet.
There are two options for MRCCB-approved recovery coaches: Registered Peer Recovery Coaches and Certified Peer Recovery Coaches.
The differences between the two come down to the amount of training and experience required. Registered Peer Recovery Coaches (RPRCs) can participate as recovery coaches. Still, Certified Peer Recovery Coaches (RPRCs) have more credibility and employment opportunities thanks to the additional training required.
To become a Registered Peer Recovery Coach, applicants must provide the following:
- Proof of completing the CCAR Recovery Coach Program and the CCAR Ethical Considerations for Recovery Coaches program
- A high school diploma (or a high school equivalency certificate)
- A signed agreement that the applicant will participate in the required supervision processes
- Signed Code of Ethics affirmation
- Documentation of 16 hours of Continuing Education (CE) every two years
Continuing education can be in any of the four domains of recovery coaching: Advocacy, Mentoring/Education, Recovery/Wellness, or Ethical Responsibility.
The second option for MRCCB certification is to become a CPRC: Certified Peer Recovery Coach.
Applications must include:
- $150 application fee, paid by check, money order, or online
- A completed CPRC application
- A signed copy of the MRCCB Code of Ethical Conduct & Disciplinary Procedures
- Signed Consent and Authorization to Obtain Information
- Transcripts for all of the completed CPRC training that the candidate has completed
- Documentation of Verification of Training, Supervision and Experience (pdf)
To meet the minimum requirement for supervised training and experience, applicants must complete 25 hours of supervision related to the recovery coaching domains: advocacy, mentoring/education, recovery/wellness support and ethical responsibility.
To recertify later, applicants must have completed 20 additional hours of Continuing Education, with six of those hours being about ethics.
The purpose of each of these requirements is to paint a picture of the applicant’s successful mastery of the work of recovery coaching.
MRCCB publishes a comprehensive recovery coaching manual that includes:
- General information about the certification options
- Detailed requirements for each certification option
- Information about the four domains
- The Maine Peer Recovery Coach Code of Ethics
- Guidelines for application, application renewal, voluntary inactive status and appeal processes
- Information about the revocation of credentials
- A useful application checklist
- Relevant forms
- Appendices with additional information
Healthy Acadia is a non-profit organization that works primarily in Hancock and Washington Counties and throughout Maine. They believe in empowering residents and organizations to make Maine’s communities healthier.
Authorized CCAR trainers facilitate Recovery Coach Academy training through Healthy Acadia. Because the state of Maine views these pieces of training as such an important part of recovery treatment, the Office of Behavioral Health is providing all Maine residents free access to these programs.
Recovery coaches can work on either a voluntary or paid basis. Coaches who want to pursue this work as a career path have many options.
Some of the places where recovery coaches can be employed include:
- Major hospital networks
- Emergency departments
- Healthcare clinics of all sizes
- Treatment programs
- In-patient treatment facilities
- Non-profit organizations
- Religious ministries
- Child welfare agencies
Importantly, recovery coaches do not provide clinical care. They are not therapists or mental health professionals. Instead, they are people with significant addiction recovery experience and ready to walk alongside other people starting their recovery journey.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), recovery coaches are a subcategory of community health workers. Their career focuses on promoting and encouraging healthy communities through education, information, and advocacy.
Community health workers earn a good salary doing meaningful work with a mean hourly wage of $22.97 and a mean annual wage of $47,780. It is a significant career path for people who have dealt with addiction and mental health challenges in their lives, as it allows them to use their lived experiences to help others.