Recovery coaching is a process where clients improve their performance, deepen their learning, and enhance their quality of life by providing greater focus and awareness of their actions, choices, and responsibilities. This has been an effective form of strength-based support for people with addiction or alcoholism issues.
In this professional platform, Addiction Recovery Coach Ruth Riddick found what her heart desires – to combine her expertise as an educator with her personal experience of sobriety. Sharing with you her significant contribution in the industry of addiction recovery, here is Ruth Riddick’s interview.
What inspired you to get your certification in Addiction Recovery Coaching?
I was looking for a platform where I could combine my personal experience of living in recovery with my professional expertise as an educator. In other words, I wanted to work as a recovery peer, as defined by Dr. Thomasina Borkman of George Mason University back in the 1970s. So, over ten years ago, I founded an education service called Sobriety Together™ where we offer a range of custom training programs for professionals in the addiction treatment field.
Meanwhile, in my supervision group, Dr. Tian Dayton suggested recovery coaching as a further professional option. It all came together for me when I attended the first annual recovery peer services conference at the Brooklyn Central Library last year and connected with Dona Pagan of The Resource Training Center (TRTC) in New York City. Dona trained and guided me through qualifying as a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach under the New York Certification Board, and as a licensed trainer of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery-Recovery Coach Academy (CCAR-RCA). In addition to my private practice, I now serve on the TRTC faculty, helping to train the next generation of recovery peers to certification standards.
What is the difference between Addiction Recovery Coaching and Addiction Therapy?
All the difference in the world! To put it at its most reductive, therapy helps clients come to terms with past experiences and behavioral patterns while coaches are concerned with helping recoverees successfully manage the logistics of their daily lives. In my practice, I see therapists and coaches working together to offer a true continuum of professional care for people in recovery.
There’s also an important third role in this mix: that of the 12 Step sponsors who mentors sponsees as they work a program of recovery in the mutual aid community. As a trainer, one of my key tasks is to keep participants straight on these role-differences, what we call “staying in your lane.” The work of Harvard’s William White (“Slaying the Dragon”) is enormously helpful here.
Why do you think Recovery Coaching is important?
Coaching provides a bridge between therapy-based services and community-based support, extending the range of options for healing and growth, especially in early sobriety. I think it’s a terrific addition to the behavioral healthcare field.
What it is like working together with people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction?
People who are recovering from addiction are just that – people. It’s helpful to think of people in recovery as being in remission, as you might be from any chronic condition, and needing to apply the same quality of vigilance and compliance. Of course, being in long-term recovery myself, I also bring some subjective insight into the particular challenges of successful sober living, one-day-at-a-time.
Why do you think people fail to get sober even with the help of professionals like you?
It’s heartbreaking to watch a loved one or a family member struggle to get sober. There’s no magic recovery wand. For the addict, a willingness to do what it takes to get sober and live in recovery is the prerequisite for success. As professionals, we owe it to people seeking help to meet recoverees where they’re coming from, however challenging their circumstances or behavior (this is easier said than done!), and to educate ourselves beyond our personal prejudices and distaste.
I’m encouraged by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s great dictum: “Unconditional love is the only power that heals”. We are not saints, but we can give this Rx our best shot.
How do you exactly define substance addiction?
If your substance use is playing havoc with your life (you’ll know when it is), and you can’t seem to stop, chances are you have a problem. Let’s talk!
What is the most remarkable experience you’ve had as a coach?
For an addict, any day without using is a miracle. It’s a privilege to work with so many everyday miracles. Of course, it gives me a glow when coachees report living successfully in recovery, but that’s their achievement, not mine. I have to remember that the coaching engagement isn’t about me – and that can be difficult for a practitioner with an executive background and a take-charge personality!
What do you think is the real key to a successful recovery?
Willingness, willingness, willingness – to quit (just for today; see what happens!); to be open to learning from professional suggestions and peer experiences; to get honest about the toll the addiction has taken and ‘fess up to the moral crimes committed while in its grip; to be realistic about how it’s going to take work; to take comfort from the community of professionals and peers who want you to succeed. You will live a full and productive life.
What is your advice to someone addicted to drugs and alcohol and is desperately trying to quit?
Reach out. Get connected. You’ll find your way – and with more support than you could ever imagine.
Kindly tell us about Sobriety Together™?
Sobriety Together™ empowers addiction treatment professionals and recovering individuals by providing specialized training and offering non-clinical coaching. Our training programs are based on peer healing principles developed by J.L. Moreno, founder of psychodrama. Trainings are delivered by certified educators and our trained coaches are experienced in working with people in recovery. Suitably qualified professionals supervise all aspects of our work. We’re proud of our emerging and evolving profession and committed to responsible growth in this sector.
Thank you for the opportunity of sharing with colleagues and readers.