TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s sobriety coach, Bob Marier, got into trouble Tuesday when he allegedly kicked a shirtless protester in the knee as a group heckled Ford during a press conference.
This brought Marier, a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict, into the spotlight and had many wondering what a sobriety coach does.
Sobriety coaches, or sober coaches, are usually recovering addicts themselves who work one-on-one with clients when they leave a treatment facility.
Unlike a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous, a sobriety coach is a paid position and can stay with a client full-time for months to fill the gap between recovery groups, such as AA, and a rehab facility.
“There’s nothing specific that allows you to say that you’re a sober coach… there’s no schooling. It comes from experience and it comes from knowledge of what to do,” Keith Singer, an addictions counsellor at Addiction Canada told Global News.
Coaches help set goals for their clients and also monitor behaviour and how their client is interacting with other people to help keep them accountable.
“People that need sober coaches truly don’t understand their own actions and/or reactions anymore,” Singer said.
Ford spokesman Amin Massoudi confirmed to the CBC last week that a sobriety coach was working with Ford “as part of his ongoing commitment to his treatment, recovery and living healthy.”
Singer said no sobriety coach would allow Ford to keep working as mayor.
“Any intelligent individual that’s been in recovery for any prolonged period of time would say that this is absolutely nothing that you should be doing. It’s too high profile for you, there’s too many things that can go wrong. It’s a relapse waiting to happen,” he said.
Drew Walton, executive director at the Canadian Centre for Addictions said that Marier shouldn’t be acting like a security guard, as that’s not what a sobriety coach does.
“From a professional level or a legal level you should not be kicking people if that’s something that did occur,” he said.
Walton said Marier’s judgment may be “way out the window” but feels a sobriety coach could help Ford.
“Rob Ford can’t go meet a drug dealer if there’s a person following him around everywhere,” he said.