The coronavirus pandemic is complicating the overdose death rate in the US.
Sadly, 2019 saw a new surge in overdose deaths, and this number continues rising. Over 72,000 people in 2019 died from a drug overdose despite a dip the previous year.
Most people don’t seek treatment for their substance use disorder. Those who do get assistance have an improved chance of staying substance-free after rehab if they utilize the right help, specifically from peer support groups and a recovery mentor.
Recovery from substance use disorder is a process of transformation. After rehab, a person must go through behavioral changes conducive to staying substance-free. To recover from any addiction means changing your lifestyle, thought patterns, and social life while at the same time developing a resilient mindset to resist the inevitable temptation to relapse.
Research shows that a predominant factor in successful recovery is having robust emotional support in place. Setbacks are a part of life. The problem is, stress and negativity can often trigger relapse, especially if the person in recovery typically used substances to cope with negative thought patterns. Staying substance-free during times of duress requires emotional support from family, supportive friends, peer support groups, and a recovery mentor.
In the fight against the opioid epidemic, the Department of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts introduced regulation laws for recovery mentors. As recovery mentors visit emergency rooms, courtrooms, and treatment centers, the department decided to integrate them into the medical team, and to accord them professional status.
As the opioid crisis rages on, we need more recovery professionals on deck to help support others in the community. If you’ve been in a successful recovery for more than two years, you have an opportunity to find employment while helping others to stay substance-free. Your experience and skills are in high demand right now, and you could become a vital positive force in your community.
Equally, if you haven’t yet achieved two years, you have an added incentive to stay on track. You can then use your experience for employment purposes.
What Is A Recovery Mentor?
A recovery mentor is someone who acts as a counselor to someone recovering from drugs and alcohol.
A recovery mentor has lived experience of addiction and recovery. That said, a mentor is not the same as a sponsor. A sponsor provides solely emotional support, while a recovery mentor also helps someone to navigate health services, the criminal justice system and employment services along with helping them access treatment.
Mentors need first-hand experience of recovery themselves. They must also now be certified.
Duties Of A Recovery Mentor
The role of a recovery mentor includes:
- Telephone Support
- Treatment Assistance
- Clinical Support
- Sobriety Support
Providing telephone support to people who might be at risk of relapse is crucial.
Mentors call people to remind them of appointments and chase them up if they miss appointments. They also aim to reengage people showing early signs of relapse.
In some approved cases, a recovery mentor takes a person to treatment centers, 12-step meetings, and appointments.
While someone is in rehab, a recovery mentor maintains contact and connects them with services like as Outpatient Services.
They also often help to facilitate group activities.
A recovery mentor signposts people in recovery to essential services like food banks, medical services, education establishments, and parent support groups.
The role also includes documenting and case management.
As recovery mentors are part of the clinical team, they also provide back-up support to clinicians in treatment groups or activities.
Support With A Substance-Free Life
Since recovery mentors are in active recovery themselves, they help newly detoxed patients to explore and engage with healthy activities.
Mentors provide support by encouraging people to have fun without drugs or alcohol and adjust to a healthier lifestyle.
Set An Example
Recovery mentors inspire and encourage others in recovery by modeling appropriate substance-free behavior.
Requirements To Be A Recovery Mentor
To be a recovery mentor, a person must:
- Maintain a successful recovery independently for a minimum of two years. This means they will not have attended a residential program during this time
- Have a high school diploma
- Be certified as a recovery mentor from a governing body in their state
- Have experience working with people with substance abuse and disabilities
- Hold a full, clean driver license
- Be a team player
Personal Qualities And Background
An effective mentor will not only be in a successful recovery, but they will also have knowledge of 12-step programs, and how they work.
They may already be active sponsors to others who are newly detoxed, although this is not mandatory.
Mentors must demonstrate the ability to communicate confidently. They also need to get along with co-workers, clients, and their families.
A good recovery mentor displays compassion and empathy and can handle a crisis.
As the role involves entering a variety of situations such as ferrying disabled people to appointments and visiting someone who has relapsed or overdosed, a good recovery mentor has a strong level of mobility. They should be able to use their hands, reach up, bend down, hold things, and carry things.
A good recovery mentor is representing the medical services and setting an example to clients. Consequently, they should portray a professional image at all times by wearing smart, clean and professional clothes.
What To Do Next
If you’ve achieved two years of sobriety and substance freedom, now is your chance to shine. You can give back to your community and turn your life into a positive force by helping others.
Your contribution as a mentor will be greatly valued, and it will also strengthen your amazing efforts to stay substance-free.