Research Paper By Clare Ng
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
Making connections with alcohol addiction, recovery and the coaching process
More than 14 million people in the United States are addicted to or abuse alcohol, while approximately 43% of American adults have had a child, parent, sibling or spouse who is or was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is not an uncommon issue in the United States, but it is one that is highly misunderstood. There are debates on alcoholism as a biological issue as well as a psychological issue. There are disputes on how to treat it and how to prevent it. There have been millions of success stories and even more stories of failure and death. When it comes to recovery, most of the focus is around the initial step of becoming sober and then counting the days of how long he or she can remain sober. I think the part that is gravely missing in our focus is the life of the recently sober addict who now needs to learn who they are and what will allow them to enjoy their newly sober life.
Three years ago, something happened in my life that I truly never thought was possible. My dad went to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. I was twenty- two years old at the time, and before then the majority of my life was left as a blur of whether or not my dad was sober. I had studied addiction in college and attended a couple AA and ALANON meetings myself and was convinced that if my dad would just attend one meeting, it would change his life. So here we were, it happened. He attended a meeting. We watched one month of sobriety turn into a year, and a year turn into two and then three. We slowly began to breathe easier, began to trust again. But what he and I quickly realized was that now, as this new sober self, we didn’t really know each other. We spent all of these years connecting, but I was connecting with a person who was not himself most of the time. There was a lot about him that I didn’t know, and a lot about himself that he didn’t know either. It became very apparent that the big hurdle of becoming sober had been made, but the even bigger hurdle of “now what” was looming ahead.
I believe that many people approaching the idea of sobriety or are just recently sober have this same lurking worry. Once I become sober, who am I? It can leave the addict drowning in a world of questions and unsure if they can handle this new life in sobriety. I believe this is where coaching is the answer. Through coaching, recovering addicts can find the support they need to stay on the path of sobriety. Learning to be self-aware, uncovering their values and purpose in life, and continue in action towards the better life they’ve chosen for themselves. Through the coaching process, the client can learn how to create structures, live true to their values, and uncover limiting beliefs. In doing this, they will discover the tools within themselves to move forward to a happier and more empowered life.
In ICA , we define structures as “anything that keeps ideas and elements together and in place over time. Structures are what support us to manage our commitments, values, and responsibilities.” A big part of coaching revolves around helping the client put structures in place to aid them in reaching their goals. This is imperative for a client in recovery to help them stay on the right path. Structures may include changing up their group of friends or starting a new exercise routine. When an alcoholic begins on the path of sobriety, they are opened up to a whole new world of challenges. They are discovering what their commitments and responsibilities are now and how they can remain in action. During the coaching process, the coach can help the client create awareness around where their weaknesses and strengths lie and what structures can be put in place to help the client succeed.
Just as a therapist, support group, and sponsor are structures to help the alcoholic remain sober, the client can create structures that will help build a more fulfilling life in sobriety. These structures can be anything from taking a walk every morning to changing jobs. The important part is that the client is able to put things in place that aid them in living a more rewarding life and enjoying it all sober.
Now, I am learning what I like to do and how I really want to spend my time. I’m learning how to be around others sober, enjoying activities that I have in common with them. I am also learning to be alone and be content now. I am just learning how to relax and accept myself as I am.–Blog post by Seeing Clear Lee 
I believe coaching can be helpful for the family members of addicts in addition to the addicts themselves. Coaches can work with them individually or as a group (of course only if agreed upon by the client). It can be helpful for the family to be aware of new structures that the client wishes to put in place and also bring clarity to what the new family goals are as a whole. So much disconnect can occur among a family living with an addict. By being able to come together to set goals and structures for success, we can support the client in creating a space at home that they fill aids them in their recovery.
Values and Purpose:
Our values are the very core of everything we do. In ICA we learn that “to live in a strong supported way, we must live by our values.” Most likely, the reason the client has started on the path of sobriety and remained there is they have made the decision that their previous lifestyle is not one they want to continue. In this new world of sobriety, it may be very unclear what their purpose is in life. They’ve moved out of a lifestyle in which their thought process and choices were often muddled by alcohol. Now, with a clear mind, it may still leave them unsure as to what they are doing with their lives. This can be a scary time in the client’s life – realizing they have no idea what their plan is at this point. In coaching, we can help the client explore what their core values are, which can lead to a better understanding of what their purpose in life is. It can be a very daunting feeling to wake up and feel like you don’t know yourself. As coaches, we can be the support our clients need to explore their values and connect that to what they envision their best future to look like.
I believe values and life purpose is a core issue in recovery coaching. Exploring values and purpose also allows the client to remain in a state of positive thinking. Remaining sober is far from easy – there can be times when it will be hard for him or her to stay optimistic. By focusing on the client’s values we can support them in shining a light on what means the most to them. These values may be the very core of why they chose sobriety, and they can also lead to where the next step ahead of them could be.
And so this time I am stepping out in faith and putting my sobriety above all else, even my marriage because ultimately my marriage won’t make it if my drinking is allowed to go the whole distance anyway.–Blog post by Unsmashed 
This excerpt is taken from a blog I recently came across by a 45 year old woman who has recently chosen sobriety. Through self-reflecting and discovery, this woman was able to hone in on her values and realized her purpose in life wasn’t simply to keep her husband happy by being the same person she’d always been. Her purpose was to love herself enough to allow herself to grow and change. Supporting the client in discovering their core values is essential to their journey of self-discovery.
Underlying beliefs are beliefs we have about ourselves that lay below the surface of our consciousness. They can affect our behavior and decision without us noticing. Uncovering these underlying beliefs may be the most important aspect of recovery coaching. “The more we know about ourselves, the more we can consciously decide what we want to continue developing in ourselves or what we want find doesn’t support our future development.” Becoming clearer about our underlying beliefs is the baseline for shifting perspectives about ourselves. In the life of an alcoholic, there can be many beliefs that he or she has buried deep inside- that they don’t deserve to be unhappy or that it’s too late for them to be successful. These beliefs are what affect their behavior, and if the beliefs about themselves are negative, then they will act in a way that proves their beliefs to be true.
In order for a recovering alcoholic to start fresh, they must first understand the baseline of where they want to begin. As coaches, we don’t want to delve too far into the past of the client, rather simply help them uncover the underlying belief to help create awareness around it. By simply bringing this belief to surface, the clients can decide whether or not this belief serves them in their new life of sobriety. This can aid the clients in their sobriety by supporting their new behaviors based on positives beliefs that align with their values. Just as they have chosen to quit drinking, they can also choose new beliefs that support their lives in sobriety.
Along with accepting myself, I am recognizing destructive thinking and learning to correct it.-Blog post by Seeing Clear Lee 
The difficult part about being sober is not being able to hide from emotions and feelings anymore. With a sober mind comes racing thoughts about the past and present left with little time to pay attention to the future. Through coaching, the client can take time to work out which beliefs it is time to let go of and remain focused on which beliefs lead them to take a stand against the alcohol. With the support of a coaching relationship, the client can become clear about their underlying beliefs, and will be able to comfortably move forward with their lives.
The idea of a sober life isn’t often the most exciting at the start for a recovering alcoholic. It can seem scary, boring, and even pointless. Life without the crutch they are used to living with can be a daunting path to take. Without the proper support, sober living can be downright miserable for the alcoholic. On the surface it may be obvious that sobriety was the right choice. Their family may be happy, their job more stable, but on the inside, they can be just as lost and maybe even more so now that their mind is more clear. Their life just becomes a monotonous counting and waiting for potential relapse, and wondering what the next step is from here.
Through the support of a coach, recovering alcoholics can look forward to more than just staying sober. The coaching process allows a safe space for self-discovery and positive growth the client needs to not only remain sober, but also create a life they are proud and happy to live. By creating a judgment-free zone, the client can learn how to also be nonjudgmental towards themselves and will be able to explore new ways to learn about who they are and embrace this new life of sober living. We can support the client in creating structures to stay sober as well as structures that support them in a life they can enjoy with supportive family and friends. Clients can bring clarity to what their values are and use these values to create goals that align with them. They can find purpose and meaning through this exploration. And finally, through the coaching process, clients can be safe to determine underlying beliefs they have about themselves and decide which beliefs no longer support them in their sober life. Coaching is the link that will help reinforce the idea that the alcoholic is in control of his or her happiness. They have already made the leap of sobriety and now, through coaching, they will be able to surface the structures, values and beliefs within them to live a meaningful life.