In April 2021, Gillian was at risk for homelessness, struggling with substance use disorder, and almost lost her son. She reached out for help and called Portland Recovery Community Center.
Gillian met with a PRCC staff member for coffee, and they talked. Soon after, she was paired with a recovery coach, who helps guide Gillian in her recovery pathway to live a meaningful life.
“The second I met her, we clicked,” Gillian said as her voice trembled holding back tears. “She has really helped me. It’s kind of like being able to talk to your best friend on a sunny day. She inspires me to be the best person I can be. She gives me confidence saying, ‘You’re amazing.’ She inspires my soul, literally.”
Recovery coaching is an innovative, peer to peer support service that helps individuals in recovery to find their own unique recovery pathway to live a joyful life. Recovery coaches help guide recoverees by removing barriers and connecting them with support and resources so that the recoveree is empowered to recover.
PRCC offers CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery) certified Recovery Coach Academy trainings throughout the state. This intensive 5-day training provides individuals with the skills they need to guide, mentor, and support people seeking to enter recovery or sustain long-term recovery from an addiction to alcohol or other drugs. PRCC provides recovery coach trainings free of charge.
PRCC has seen a steady increase of people wanting recovery coaching over the past four years. KiM Capone-Sprague, who coordinates peer recovery coaching at PRCC, said about 15 to 20 people each month reach out for recovery coaching services.
In 2022, PRCC had 53 staff and volunteer recovery coaches, mostly volunteer, who provided support to 242 recoverees. It was KiM, who matched Gillian with her recovery coach.
“Oh my gosh, I love being able to connect with people on a really deep level,” KiM said. “I feel in my heart the place of desperation that they might be in when they walk in the door and having that switch to hope by the time they walk out. I love working with people in recovery because they’re yearning for something, hoping for something, and working towards something. Being able to offer them a little bit of support with that is really amazing.”
PRCC provides trainings for Recovery Coach Basics, Recovery Coach Academy, and follow-up trainings such as Ethical Considerations for Recovery Coaches, Coachervision, and Recovery Coaching in an Emergency Department.
Justin Reid is the Statewide Recovery Coach Coordinator for the recovery hub at PRCC and a Recovery Coach Professional Facilitator. His role is to ensure that people interested in recovery coaching have access to education and trainings for Recovery Coach Basics, Recovery Coach Academy, and follow-up trainings.
To date, PRCC has trained over 600 recovery coaches since launching the Recovery Coach Academy training in 2018. Justin co-facilitates most of the trainings held virtually and throughout the state. Justin provides ongoing support and education for recovery coaches statewide.
“I love that in training and supporting recovery coaches, I’m confident they will be going out and helping people in their communities with recovery or people who need support,” Justin said. “Even if they are not sitting down in a formal recovery coach role, like at a meeting at a recovery community center, I believe that something they have learned in the classes will stick and be used to help someone they identify as struggling. To sit and listen to somebody, hold space for that person, and help them to feel seen and heard and potentially come up with some actionable steps to improve their life in whatever way that might look like… that’s pretty awesome.”
Recovery coaching is available at every recovery community center across Maine. From Portland to Caribou, recovery coaches are making a difference in people’s lives. Last year, recovery coaches provided education, resources, and hope for an estimated 675 recoverees across the state.
PRCC provided recovery support services to 478 recoverees at PRCC, Day One, Crossroads, York Hospital, New Moms, Building Bridges, and the Maine Department of Corrections.
Last year, recovery coaches at Bangor Area Recovery Network in Brewer supported 55 recoverees. Recovery coaches at Lakes Region Recovery Center in Bridgton supported 48 recoverees. At Bath Recovery Community Center, recovery coaches helped 24 recoverees. Recovery coaches at Roads to Recovery Community Center in Caribou supported 57 recoverees.
Bill Howard, of Falmouth, participated in the Recovery Coach Academy training and has served as a volunteer recovery coach at PRCC for the past year.
“I like hearing about their journeys,” Bill said. “I can relate to their stories. They get value from the fact that I can relate. There’s a bond that develops and they feel comfortable sharing. I get a lot of value out of listening. I nudge them towards their set goals and work at keeping them on task and connected to services. It’s very gratifying.”
Larry Labonte Recovery Center in Rumford has six recovery coaches. BARN has 17 recovery coaches and LRRC in Bridgton has five recovery coaches. Theresa Dumond, a recovery coach at LRRC, said she loves her job and is grateful for the opportunity to help others find their own recovery pathway.
“I’m learning that not everyone walks the same path and that’s okay,” Theresa said. “This job has taught me responsibility. People can count on me today and that is also rewarding. I get to meet people where they are.”
Gillian meets with her recovery coach at PRCC and at other recovery meetings in the Portland area. Gillian said her recovery coach is supportive, encouraging, and helps guide her through life’s challenges using positive words of encouragement such as, ‘You got this,’ ‘You rock,’ and ‘You’re doing great.’
“It’s like two best friends sitting on the front porch eating peanut butter sandwiches in the sunshine,” Gillian said of her recovery coach. “It’s beautiful. It is the most amazing gift I ever got in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am now without her support. I’m very successful. I’m very confident and kind. I lead with my heart. It’s kind of who I always wanted to be.”