Everyday people in recovery often turn to 12 Step Fellowship support groups or an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sponsor when they face a possible relapse, but some celebrities and other wealthy addicts are turning to paid “sober companions” to help maintain their sobriety, the New York Times reported.
Sober companions like Ronnie Kaplan, a former addict and ex-con, can earn fees of up to $1,000 per day for their services. “I get there and I sit him down and relax his mind,” Kaplan said of his interaction with one wealthy client. “I ask him ’What brought this on?’ It’s always something.” Kaplan said he will even search the client’s home for drugs if he thinks it is warranted.
Some sober companions become part of a celebrity’s entourage, like a personal trainer or life coach. But demand for their services is increasingly coming from outside the entertainment business, including CEOs in recovery.
“Anybody who’s returning to their life after rehab needs added structure and support in that transitioning phase,” said Nanette Zumwalt, owner of Hired Power, a California company that employs 70 sober companions in 15 states.
Ron Hunsicker, president of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, said the recent growth in high-end treatment programs has helped feed the growth of the sober-companion profession. Patients discharged from exclusive treatment programs often are referred to sober companions who help with discharge plans and follow-up care. “It’s another option, particularly for high risk, relapse people,” said Hunsicker.
Robert Tyler, president of the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counsellors, said sober companions can help people in recovery but added, “There’s no regulation, no accountability.” And at least one client says that the role of sober companions should be limited. “I don’t think you need a sober companion for six months,” said the client, a lawyer from Boston who spent $650 per day for a sober companion who stayed with her for four days after she left a Utah treatment program. “You have to take responsibility for your own recovery.”
From; Join Together Online