The Basics of Sober Coaching a Teen

You are their best hope of recovery--don't blow it by enabling.

There are two modes for SOBER COACHING, prevention and dealing with a crisis.

Read these basics and find out where you need to start. This workbook is flexable and addresses both prevention and dealing with a crisis. You can use the workbook as prevention for drug issues in your family, or you can use it to deal with a full blown crisis.

Many parents (and professionals) blame the family environment for addiction. While sometimes that is the case, just as often it is not. Remember, some very sick children come from some very healthy families. Don't begin your journey of helping your son or daughter by blaming yourself. You are making a good solid healthy decision by seeking help.

What is a Sober Coach?

Sober Coaches are desirable and effective professionals who can be hired to personally assist addicts in the recovery process. Some movie companies hire them to watch their stars during a movie or corporations hire them to help their executives out of treatment. They are well-trained, know recovery inside and out, and are very expensive. But, let's face it, the average family cannot afford their services. However, parents, family, and friends of addicts can learn and use the techniques practiced by professional sober coaches.

Exactly what do we mean by sober coaching? A sober coach helps those in recovery learn how to handle all the stressors and relapse hazards of newfound sobriety. Since addicts' lives have typically revolved for years around the maladaptive drug-using lifestyle, they need to learn how to cope with life while sober. Those who recover successfully will eventually learn the necessary skills, a sober coach can greatly speed up the learning process and help them avoid relapse.

Sober Coaching is not Enabling

Although it sounds contradictory, sober coaching (also called recovery coaching and recovery assistant) is not about getting the user clean and sober. We can't do that even though we long for that kind of power. 'Not using' is something addicts must ultimately decide they want to do for themselves. What we can do is help them get on the recovery track without hurting them. We can support and motivate them to get off drugs.

It is also important to understand what sober coaching is not. It is not about enabling, blaming the user's friends, or making threats. Sober coaching is becoming educated about the disease of addiction, utilizing the resources available, such as support groups (for us and them), avoiding enabling, and setting and enforcing boundaries. The essence of sober coaching is contained in the Recovery Coach's Pledge. You can find it in the following link Click Here.


Never be called an enabler again

You came here because you want to be a good parent and need help dealing with one of two situations. You either suspect your teen is abusing drugs or you know they are a teenage addict. You think s/he might be abusing alcohol and drugs or may be addicted to them. You want your teenager to stop using because you understand the horrible consequences of drug abuse but drug treatment isn't always the best first choice. Unfortunately, your troubled teen does not seem to understand the dire consequences of their actions, or if your drug abusing teen does, won't stop abusing drugs.

You definitely want to know that the actions you take are effective. Although there are no guarantees in this serious business, there are certain actions a parent can take that will help steer the young person in the right direction. You have been a Life Coach to your youngster for many years. Now it is time to change the focus and become a Sober Coach.The information on this site is an overview of the book by Shelly Marshall, best selling addiction author and her brother, Dr. Michael J Marshall, professor and clinician in private practice

Determine your starting point

  1. Decide if you are in Prevention Mode or Crisis Mode based on the questions below.
  2. Read the section to understand what direction you will be looking in.
  3. Join at least one online or community support group.
  4. Once you are through the crisis and your young person is seeking professional help, you must begin the process of becoming a Sober Coach for your child.
  5. Download the worksheets from the download's page and begin using them.
  6. Download the book, Sober Coaching Your Toxic Teen for an interactive and more detailed guide on how to walk through a drug crisis without enabling. Includes over 23 reproducible handouts and worksheets.
  7. You might want to read this basic primer article about drug abuse in adolescents put out by Morningside Recovery. Read this especially if you are new to dealing with drug abuse and teens. Drug Education and Prevention for your Teen

Do you need the workbook for Prevention or are you already in Crisis?

Prevention Mode

Are you looking for information and suspect there may be problems but nothing definite has happened? Your youngster is curious, you may be concerned about his new friends, he/she has begun middle school, and you want to do the right thing? Then you are probably looking for prevention type information. If your young person is not yet in trouble with alcohol and other drugs, then you are in Prevention Mode. Just as drug 'abuse' is not the same as drug 'addiction,' what you do in 'prevention mode' is not the same as what you do in 'crisis mode.' All too often parents and even professionals overreact and take drastic measures when they aren't warranted. If you are in prevention mode, there are some very good resources in your community, on the web, and in our workbook.

Crisis Mode

They are not bullet proof and neither are you! Once your teenager has been arrested, thrown out of school, or created some other family crisis as a result of using drugs, the rules have changed. Do not believe their promises (you are dealing with a drug now); do not give into their pleas, cons, and manipulations about how they can do this on their own. The inner druggie is probably in control, not the child you raised; prepare yourself for the fight of their life. They can not see or understand the danger and so you have to take charge of this battle. But it will not be in the authoritarian manner you took charge when they were little. You do not want to be an enabler. You have much less direct influence over them (physically, emotionally, and legally) and will have to rely on additional resources, your own instincts, and community support. You can't go this one alone.