Recovering from substance abuse addiction and restarting one’s life can be a challenging journey.

That’s why Ridgefielders Brian Nash and Tim Hastings have joined the Progressive Institute’s recovery coaching program, which partners with individuals to help identify and connect with the resources, services and support that will allow them to achieve a lifetime of sustained recovery.

“It’s a field that’s beginning to get bigger,” said Nash, who also serves as the director of clinical relationship management at the Progressive Institute in Shelton. “The state’s House of Representatives has approved recovery coaches to be in 20 hospitals in Connecticut, including Danbury Hospital. We’re in the emergency rooms, we’re in treatment centers. ... We’re there to be a resource for an individual during their darkest hours.”

A recovery coach provides compassion, Nash added, and will work with the individual to come up with a recovery plan.

“It’s not a therapist or a sponsor, those are other types of programs,” Nash explained. “We’re not there to go through someone’s childhood or go over 12 steps. A recovery coach meets clients where they are in recovery. And we’ve seen a pretty wide range. It could be someone who’s debating to get help to someone who’s been to the hospital three or four times. ... The goal is to meet them where they are and show them the options in a compassionate way.”

The core philosophy of the program is creating a plan that is based off the clients’ strengths. Once the plan is executed, the patients begin to slowly integrate themselves back into their community.

“We want to be a resource in helping them achieve their goals,” said Hastings, “and for some, that’s just finding sobriety and maintaining it.

“It runs the gamut,” he added. “Some need help with housing, others need help with their job or their careers. We’ve helped with resumes. We’ve helped people seek a higher education. Everyone’s goal is different.”

Alternative route

Nash and Hastings believe strongly that recovery coaching can help people who would otherwise never seek sobriety.

“Some people want help but want to remain anonymous to the point where they don’t want to share in front of a room,” Hastings said. “It could be a CEO or an attorney or a doctor who, for whatever reason, doesn’t want their identity to be known and can work with us one-on-one without anyone else knowing.

The Progressive Group, the institute’s parent company, was founded six years ago. The group launched the recovery coaching program two years ago.

“We have a lab in Trumbull that we work with and can do testing through, we also work with treatment centers and hospitals and psychiatrists throughout the region,” Nash said. “We like to think of ourselves as an all-in-one resource.”

Reach

At the end of 2019, Progressive Institute has six recovery coaches who can handle between five and seven clients at a time.

They are trained through the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), which is funded through the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

The clients are spread all over the state from Milford to Fairfield to New Haven to New Canaan to Bethel, Nash said.

“We’re looking to bring in a few more coaches in the Hartford area to help with potential clients up there,” he said.

Sober link

Coaches meet with clients face to face twice a week. As part of the program, the clients can receive a “sober link,” which is a breathalyzer device.

“It’s no thicker than an iPhone and our clients use it to set up times in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night,” Nash explained. “This reminds them to blow into the breathalyzer and that helps give the coach an update.”

The sober link is optional.

“Clients can opt in to use the device but they don’t have to do it,” Nash said. “A majority of our clients want to quit and they sign up for it but we’ve found it’s important to give them that choice.”

A coach works with a client for three months, and after that period the engagement can be renewed for another three months.

“I’ve had clients work with me for an entire year,” Nash said. “Some even longer.”

In addition to the sober link and the face-to-face meetings, a client will receive daily check-ins from their coach and urinalysis testing.

“We have our coaches text or face-time with clients every day, especially on the holidays,” Hastings said. “That’s a time where a lot of people fall back into familiar patterns.”

Meetings can take place in someone’s home or at his or her place of work or at a coffee shop — it’s all up to the client.

“We want to see them restart their lives and that’s why we give them the tools to build themselves back up, to find a support system that works and to begin feeling connected to their community again.”

For more information on the Progressive Institute, call 203-816-6424 or visit progressive-institute.com.

For more information about becoming or finding a recovery coach, email bnash@progressive-institute.com. For additional information, contact Opioid Services Coordinator Lauren Siembabat lauren.siembab@ct.gov.