Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

What Is a Sober Companion and What Do They Do?

Key Takeaways

What is a Sober Companion?

A sober companion provides one-on-one support and assistance to people recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Sober companions are sometimes called sober coaches or recovery coaches. They typically work with people who have recently left treatment facilities.

Although the field of sober companionship is unregulated, some sober companions are licensed mental health professionals or have experience in addiction recovery.

What Does a Sober Companion Do?

The main goal of a sober companion is to help a recovering addict maintain total abstinence. They also provide guidance and support to encourage healthy routines during sobriety.

Sober companions can also:

  • Provide company during meetings and appointments.
  • Spend several hours a day with their client.
  • Live with their client for a brief period.

Sober companions can be part of a person’s clinical team of professionals or may work independently. They join the team during the later stages of treatment as the recovering addict transitions to regular life.

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Do I Need a Sober Companion?

Depending on where you are in your recovery, a sober companion may improve your chances of maintaining sobriety. Sober companions are extremely valuable for people in recovery, especially in the early days and weeks of independence. They support someone transitioning from full-time detox and recovery programs to their regular lives.

These companions don't guarantee sobriety, but they support those overcoming all kinds of substance abuse. They also help addicted people navigate the challenges of transitioning to a sober life outside a formal recovery environment. 

Impact on Success Rate

Sober companions often contribute to a higher success rate in reaching sobriety. However, whether you should get a sober companion or not is a personal decision. 

People with financial or medical means to hire one should consider doing so, but having a sober coach isn’t required for a successful recovery.

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What to Expect From a Sober Companion

The services a sober companion provides are situational. Nearly all sober companions work with people involved in an abstinence-based recovery program. This includes 12-step programs like AA, SMART Recovery, and residential treatment. 

Sober companions might offer:

  • Transport to and from rehab, medical appointments, and meetings
  • Medical support during long journeys
  • Practical and emotional support during the transition from addiction treatment to home life
  • Help eliminate alcohol from their homes
  • Guidance and support with daily structure outside of a treatment center or program
  • Help deal with difficult situations with work, travel, or family members
  • Attendance at social events where there’s a temptation to drink
  • Support in far-away places for an extended period

What a Sober Companion Doesn't Do

As varied as a sober companion’s role might be, there are certain things they don't do. Sober companions aren't friends or sponsors. Their role is encouraging people to make healthy choices, but they aren't personal assistants.

Sober companions won’t run errands or do chores if it has nothing to do with reaching sobriety. They also aren't life coaches, even if they similarly offer support and guidance.

The relationship of a recovering addict with a sober companion has a certain level of intimacy and vulnerability, similar to a medical care provider. However, their interactions should be strictly professional.

Sober Escorts vs. Sober Companions

Sober escorts and sober companions both help in maintaining a person’s sobriety. However, their specific “duties” vary.

A sober escort provides transport to and from appointments with doctors, counselors, therapists, and support groups for people in outpatient addiction treatment programs.

In contrast, a sober companion provides emotional support in social situations where a recovering person might be tempted to drink alcohol.

Since having a sober companion isn’t a specific science, recovering alcoholics may negotiate a personal arrangement based on their needs.

How to Find a Sober Companion

In most cases, treatment providers you’re already working with can direct you to the service companies in your area. However, you must know your requirements and needs before reaching out to a potential sober companion.

Since not all sober companions offer the same services, you must consider your pain points while in recovery. For instance, some sober companions might be willing to travel or move in with their mentees, while others won't.

Regulation and Classifications

As mentioned, sober companionship is an unregulated industry. There's no required training or licensing to become one. However, some sober companions signed up with treatment centers may have past medical care experience or relevant training.

You can choose to work with a freelance or self-employed sober companion or hire one from a reputable company. A significant advantage of doing the latter is the extra layer of consumer protection.

When you seek sober companions from a reputable company, you get help from individuals screened through standardized requirements. These may be people who have:

  • At least five years of sobriety
  • A CPR/first aid certification
  • Liability insurance
  • Basic medical information

Reaching out to a company also provides access to alternatives if the initial match doesn't work out. Companies can also make travel arrangements and handle financial issues and scheduling.

If you aren’t sure where to begin your search for a sober companion, consult with your current healthcare advisers. Speak to your 12-step sponsor, treatment coordinator, counselor, doctor, or anyone helping you reach sobriety.

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How to Become a Sober Companion

There’s no established route to pursuing a career as a sober companion. However, you can train and acquire certifications to guarantee competency in fulfilling your responsibilities.

Sober companion training programs include:

  • Ethical, moral, and legal matters
  • Insurance
  • Scheduling and routines
  • Coaching vs. companionship
  • Vehicle safety
  • Working with other members of a person’s addiction treatment team
  • Goal setting
  • Listening skills
  • Harm reduction
  • Mental health
  • Safety concerns
  • Indications of other addictions
  • Family dynamics

Enrolling in a training program is essential if you aspire to be a sober companion. Even if you’ve achieved years of sobriety, these programs equip you with the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively support people in recovery.


A sober companion can have a drastic impact on your recovery toward sobriety. They can assist you in changing your lifestyle and committing to healthier routines.

Although having someone else to assist your progress can be a positive arrangement, it’s not a guarantee to staying sober. This is why you need to build a strong sense of independence as well for the long journey ahead.

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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