How a Sober Mentor Helps in Recovery
Many people learn the hard way that being sober and staying sober are two very different things, and this is the best reason why there is a profession known as the sober mentor. There are people who do manage to stay sober for a time after a stint in rehabilitation, who later on discover that the stress of everyday life is more than enough to drive them right back into seeking escape through substances.
In other instances, the person could have taken to rehabilitation quite well, and would have continued to do so, had they not been exposed to an environment where it was immensely difficult to stay sober. This is particularly true for people who are around others who are heavy drinkers or engage in illicit drug use, or happen to work in an industry where they are exposed to the manufacture or sales of substances they could get addicted to.
For people such as there, a sober mentor, sober companion, or sober coach could prop up their sagging willpower and allow them to continue to stay away from substances that would push them right back into a relapse.
What is a Sober Mentor?
A sober mentor, sober coach, or sober companion is a professional who helps people stay on the straight and narrow in terms of substances so that they do not slip into a relapse. These people are trained to identify the signs and symptoms that a person’s willpower and determination to stay sober is giving out. They are also trained to spot the potential causes of why a person’s determination to stay sober is giving out.
Depending on the level of support that a person requires, a sober mentor could be with the person anywhere between a few hours of the day where the temptation is the greatest, to being with the person for days at a time. The goal is to give support as needed, even when the person does not realize that they are in a situation where they would need that support.
Sober mentoring is significantly more than a sponsorship program, and it is decidedly different from other programs that usually occur concurrently or after rehabilitation. For one, sober mentorship is a one-on-one relationship with a person needing support to ensure they stay sober. In most cases, this relationship operates with the transitional goal of moving from a healing environment, such as a recovery community, back into normal life without falling out of established sober habits.
To most people, this goal might not seem to be much. For people who once had a substance abuse disorder and had just come out of rehab, this is a crucial thing. Kicking a habit, re-adjusting to a sober life, and maintaining the drive to not come near substances once again is an immensely daunting task. Those who have never felt the massive cravings that people with dependencies get are indescribably fortunate, as the cravings and urges are nothing short of agonizingly strong, even for someone who had gone through all sorts of therapy to kick the habit.
What Can You Expect if You are Working with a Sober Mentor?
A sober mentor’s job is highly specific and structured. Their role has very little by way of superfluous goals or activities, as they often need to be integrated into the everyday life of the people who need sober mentors.
As such, there are certain things that could be expected when one is working with a sober mentor. These include:
Those who work with sober mentors will learn that they do not accept excuses. They will follow a strict set of rules and guidelines to ensure that the person stays sober for the duration of their working relationship.
This strict set of rules might feel restrictive at times, but the reason for this is that in many cases, all it takes for a relapse to happen is just one careless moment where the person forgets that they need to stay away from things that could ruin their efforts at sobriety. This is something that sober mentors are always vigilant of, and the benefit of this is that this practice eventually rubs off on the person. Soon after, the one needing support would become just as vigilant as the sober mentor, allowing them to check themselves when needed.
Sometimes all that is needed for people to fall into bad habits once more is to have too much idle time. This is why a good amount of time during therapy is devoted to activities that encourage creativity, communication, and exercise. These activities not only preoccupy the mind and body of someone looking to quell the massive urges to take substances again, but they also serve to make a better version of the person after rehab.
A sober mentor will also make use of this strategy so that the person learns to organize things in life and follow a routine. This leaves very little to chance, and the person learns to become organized and prepared for contingencies, such as instances that would test a person’s resolve to stay sober. Following an organized routine also creates a reliable system in a person’s life, which creates a sense of well-being that the person will not jeopardize by getting into substances again.
Sober mentors are also very mindful of everything in the life of the person needing support, particularly those that could pose a danger to their sobriety. It is not uncommon for people in recovery to “cheat” or slip in a sip or two of alcohol, or perhaps even a little substance on the side. These things are immensely dangerous for people who have just been in rehab because it is so easy for them to slip right back into full-blown substance abuse once they get the taste for it again.
Conversely, sober mentors are also on the lookout for potential “sources” of things that could push a person right back into relapse. In social gatherings or events, there are people who shouldn’t really be drinking, mainly because they are on the wagon, and then someone will go up and offer them a drink. There are those with the good sense to say no right away, but there are also others who would go “just one, what could it hurt?” A sober mentor knows just how hurt it could do, so they are always on the lookout for this. This is also something that rubs off on the person they are watching out for, as they themselves learn to be mindful and vigilant of instances where temptation could pop up.
Communication is always key, in everything. This is the same with recovery and sobriety. It is important for a sober mentor to maintain open and honest lines of communication with the person they are mentoring, to check how they are doing, feeling, and if they have had any overwhelming urges lately.
Honesty is important at this point, because things like great urges and close calls to giving in are not a reflection on the person, and will not be held against them. These instances are not moments of weakness, these are only moments of being human, and humans need support and guidance. This is why honesty in this kind of relationship is particularly important, as it will give the sober mentor an insight as to how to prevent situations that might put the person in a vulnerable position.
What are the Methods of Sobriety used by Sober Mentors?
Sober mentors often make use of evidence-based approaches and methods to help a person stay sober. These methods are based on practicality, sustainability, and longevity, as the person needs to be able to learn how to process and practice these methods on their own and for as long as they need to.
A sober mentor will spend countless hours communicating with the person they are supporting. This is not only to get to know them better, but to also understand things that might not be communicated openly, such as triggers. In most cases, the person needing support might not be aware of all the triggers that push them to use substances, so it is important to exert effort to isolate, identify, and understand these triggers. Doing so will help the person in avoiding them, or at least in preparing for them, in case avoidance is not possible.
Discerning Warning Signs of a Relapse
Relapses don’t normally happen instantly, or even overnight. They are usually the product of the slow erosion of a person’s will to resist using once more. This being said, there are warnings that point to the progression of the erosion that will lead to an incident of relapse, and this is something that sober mentors will point out.
Understanding Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)
There are some symptoms that persist or linger well past the point where the person is supposed to not feel any of it. This is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This is characterized by:
- Mood swings
- Sleep pattern disruption
As this phase could be unavoidable for some, a sober mentor will help a person in dealing with these symptoms, particularly in ways that will not result in a relapse.
Avoiding old bad habits
There are psychotherapy approaches that seek to change the behavior and thinking patterns of a person so that bad habits are not repeated past rehabilitation. Behavior, however, is a peculiar thing, in that old bad habits could still be deep in the person’s subconscious, and would only come out when they are vulnerable. A sober mentor will take note of these habits and be on the lookout for telltale signs the person is about to engage in it again.
Normally, a sober mentor could be all the support that a person needs. When the person is expected to be sober enough on their own, however, they would still need to identify instances where they would need support, and know where they could get it.
Find Help at Jaywalker Lodge
Environment and lifestyle are two of the biggest behavioral influences a person could ever have. By strengthening their innate resistance to going back to unhealthy habits, a person stands a better chance of fighting off even the most powerful urges that they get. Living a healthy lifestyle that is boosted by exercise and by healthy eating is a sure way to build this innate strength.
Give us a call today for more information.