There is still an opioid problem in America, but there’s also a problem with access to the health care required to fix the addiction epidemic. Opioids are such a problem that South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Alaska, Virginia, and Massachusetts all issued a state of emergency declaration in the past few years. However, funding is tight in these same states, and there’s not enough access to treatment. It can take months for a person to find a bed in a local treatment center. The time spent waiting is often a critical point for people who want help. Because there are long wait times for people who want help, recovery coaches fill an incredible treatment gap for people struggling from addiction.

Recovery Coaches Are Changing Lives

Recovery coaches are people who are in recovery themselves with a significant amount of time clean and sober. They work with people who are struggling with addiction and help them access and use resources in the community. Sometimes they’re employed by hospitals or public health departments so that an overdose victim can take the chance to save their lives. At other times, they’re employed by a treatment center that doesn’t have space for a person who wants to get clean and sober.

Often, a recovery coach works with a person who has already been prescribed medication-assisted treatment, which blocks the cravings that often come with an opioid use disorder. If you’re already familiar with 12-step programs and recovery, you may think this sounds similar to the use of a sponsor. While it’s related, there is more of a social worker feel to the role. After all, the recovery coach is getting paid to be where they

In Michigan, a nonprofit treatment center by the name of Tellurian, a nonprofit recovery center in Dane County, has hired recovery coaches to fill the gap before a person can get into treatment.

Jennifer Fleming, a Tellurian recovery specialist, told 3000 News: “We’re meeting clients where they are at. We are meeting them in the community. We’re meeting them when maybe their motivation is really low and being able to have that recovery coach in that environment gives them the opportunity to see the recovery as a reality.”

In New York, the state even runs a training program for people in recovery who want to work as coaches. Recovery Coaches “do not provide clinical services — (primary treatment for addiction, diagnosis) and recognize that there are many pathways to recovery.”