Sobriety is an individual state – it’s something you have to trigger on your own, maintain of your own volition, and pursue with your own agency. If someone pushes you to get sober, it won’t last. If someone gives you an emotional ultimatum to get sober, it won’t last. Even life itself cannot force you to get sober – until death takes you. And even then, you wouldn’t be sober. You’d just be gone. It’s on you to get sober and stay sober – but there’s more to sobriety than taking step for step on a lonely road. You have to do the lifting and make the decisions, but you can do so with a sober mentor or someone by your side, encouraging you, reminding you, helping you do the things you need to do the most in order to stay true to your own promises and live out the sober life you might have longed for.
That is what a sober mentor initially represents – the person in your life who helps you stay sober. But the keyword here is help. Help is always important. We need help, and support – not just as recipients, but as senders. Helping and supporting others can be extremely fulfilling – and in much the same way as you might need the help of a sober mentor to get through the toughest times of your recovery, someone will one day need you. Or maybe they already do.
What Is A Sober Mentor?
A sober mentor is a professional. They begin with the experience and the passion to help others – and then they follow that up with training. Sober mentoring programs exist for individuals who have gone through life facing their own hardships and challenges to meet and help people struggling through many similar challenges on their own road to wellbeing.
Sober mentoring is more than a sponsorship program, and it differs from many other programs. In a sense, it’s a one-on-one relationship with a transitional goal in mind – moving from a healing environment like a recovery community back into real life without losing hope or falling out of established sober habits.
Sobriety is not necessarily difficult to achieve. Many people stop using or drinking, and the motivations for doing so do not have to be particularly powerful. The struggle begins when a person has to actually keep up that sobriety, for days and weeks and months. Life is not streamlined, simple or idyllic – it’s messy and harsh, more so for some than for others. Withstanding life on your own two feet is hard enough but doing so while staying sober after months or years of substance use can be gut wrenchingly difficult, and seemingly impossible.
Sober mentors work to open your eyes to the possibilities of a prolonged and permanent sober life, one that makes you strong enough to face all of life’s challenges, including even the most tragic setbacks.
The sober mentor has multiple responsibilities, including keeping schedules for their clients, helping them emotionally and psychologically, collaborating with the client’s other treatment options and with their friends and family, and being skilled in crisis management, interventions, and more.
The Mentor/Mentee Relationship
If you don’t like your therapist, you’re not going to get much out of therapy.
This holds true for sober mentorship, as well. A sober mentor is a qualified professional doing their job – but that does not mean that they have to be cold or unfriendly while doing so. It’s important to find a mentor you’re comfortable with, someone with whom you share chemistry.
Beyond that, the mentor/mentee relationship may be one you have to prepare for. The first most important step is to establish within your own mind that you truly want this. A sober mentorship is voluntary – it isn’t a program that should be hoisted onto someone if they’re out of control, but rather it should be something a client decides to choose is best for their transition from a recovery community to regular living.
As such, prepare by considering how you want to incorporate your mentor into your life. Sober mentors are not sober companions – they usually do not get paid large sums of money to live with you and stand by your side 24/7. Instead, they may be available on a regular basis, meeting as often as you are comfortable with, and under certain emergency circumstances.
Decide when and how often you plan to meet, and what you want to accomplish with this relationship. Is your primary objective a smooth transition into a new job? Reconnecting with family? Staying sober for six months straight? Try and consider what matters most, and why.
Sober Mentorship In The Long-Term
Sober mentors can be both friends and professionals, yet speaking in concrete terms, sober mentoring is a service that is meant to be temporary. While some individuals might only need this sort of intense professional help for a few weeks, others can spend months or even years struggling with their addiction and various treatments.
The long-term view requires sober mentors to both focus on the now and provide tools that help clients deal with their own issues in the future, as well as working with close relatives and loved ones to help them understand what they might have to do to help the client prolong their sobriety and maintain it throughout recovery and beyond.
Choosing a sober mentor can help a person overcome the hardest, most challenging aspects of recovery – the early recovery period, when the cravings are the most powerful and the memories and emotions are at their strongest. But after a certain period of time passes, it is time for a client to move on towards a more independent stroll through recovery. While we all need support from those around us, seeking professional support forever is not a good sign of progress through recovery. The aim for sober mentors is ultimately to make their own existence in a client’s life obsolete, preferably as quickly as feasible depending on the client’s progress.