We have devoted a couple of recent blog entries to sponsors. We considered what a person in recovery from a substance use disorder should look for in a sponsor, and we made some suggestions for ending a relationship with a sponsor when things don’t seem to be working out. In this entry, we’d like to focus on recovery mentors. A recovery mentor is like a sponsor in some ways but is quite different in others. In fact, there are enough differences that some people may find it useful to seek support from both a recovery mentor and a sponsor.
Committed to Ongoing Training and Education
Training and education are perhaps the most important ways a recovery mentor differs from a sponsor. While a sponsor can provide support and accountability that can be extremely helpful, a recovery mentor has taken things a step further. Recovery mentors have formal training and education to ensure they are prepared to provide effective support to the individuals they serve. And it isn’t just one-time education. Recovery mentors dedicate themselves to ongoing training so that they are always at their best.
Other Key Traits of a Recovery Mentor
The traits that make a mentor effective are largely just what you would expect:
- Like a sponsor, a recovery mentor is a person who is also in recovery from a substance use disorder.
- They are friendly, with good communication skills and experience working with those who are newly sober.
- They are fully committed to principles of privacy and confidentiality.
- They are comfortable and adept at working with individuals from a variety of backgrounds.
- They are passionate about helping others maintain their sobriety.
A key takeaway here: A recovery mentor is committed to their own recovery—and to yours.
Recovery Mentors Can Help in Myriad Ways
What can you expect from your mentor? While it is important to note that each person and each situation is different, there are a range of ways a recovery mentor might work with you to help you maintain your sobriety.
For example, your mentor might attend a 12-Step (or other recovery program) meeting with you and help you translate the program’s strategies and philosophies into specific action. A recovery mentor can also connect you with community resources that support your sobriety or can help address any co-occurring mental health disorders (or both). They can offer advice grounded in their own experiences (as well as drawn from their training) and help you work toward (and celebrate) your sobriety goals and milestones. And they can help you set goals around healthy lifestyle choices—including a healthy diet, a regular sleep schedule, and consistent exercise—that firm up the foundations of your sobriety.
Long and short: A recovery mentor is a person you can count on to encourage you, hold you accountable, and offer support when the going gets tough. That relationship can be absolutely critical in the early days of your recovery journey, a period of time when you are likely to face abundant challenges while still trying to develop the habits that will lessen the likelihood of relapse. Having the steady voice of a recovery mentor available to you in the early going can make all the difference.
A recovery mentor might also inspire you to give back by becoming a mentor yourself when the time is right. Doing so is a wonderful way to pay
forward the assistance you receive from your recovery mentor.
The On-Ramp to Recovery is Treatment
We often refer to the “recovery journey”—suggesting in this very blog that a recovery mentor can help you during the early days of that journey. But every journey has a starting point, and for a person struggling with drugs or alcohol, that starting point is treatment.
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we will help you reclaim your sobriety via medically supervised detoxification that will see you through the challenges of withdrawal. We follow that up with a rehabilitation program that includes both individual and group therapy—and can address any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be in play. That’s important because mental health and sobriety are deeply intertwined. After your time in residential treatment comes to an end, we offer a continuum of care designed to offer ongoing support and resources.
Before you need a mentor, you need to get yourself on the road to recovery. That road runs through French Creek Recovery Center.