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“Clean Time” Does it really matter?

Does a Recovery Coach have to have a specific amount of continuous recovery?

This subject comes up regularly in our Recovery Coach Academy Training.

“Oh, how clean are you?”

I often get this question the moment I say I’m in Recovery. My answer determines how the other person will treat me going forward, I’ve always been a hard worker starting from a very young age. I started working at a Country Club when I was 18, within 2 years I was the manager. When I moved to England after being in residential treatment for 90 days I wanted to support people in recovery, as soon as I mentioned my “clean time” the response was “well maybe you should start volunteering first”. That’s a load of bologna.

A couple of months ago I read Phil Valentine’s blog “A Crock of Clean Time Crap” and it made me do a little happy dance! I would highly suggest you read it as he brings up some very valid points such as;

  • Most everyone agrees that lack of meaningful employment following an addiction history is a significant roadblock to long-term recovery.

  • I don’t think you can legally require sobriety and/or clean time as a requirement for employment. Yet people do it all the time. If you require someone to be in recovery, you are probably guilty of discrimination.

Does a Recovery Coach have to have a specific amount of continuous recovery? The short answer, No.

Let me share an inspirational story about one of our CCAR Recovery Coach Academy Students, he has given me permission to disclose this.

Stuart was like many of us, he went to residential treatment for 3 months and when he came home ready to build a life, he couldn’t find the support he needed to pursue the career he wanted. (Which I can personally relate to as I moved to England 3 months into my recovery journey). He was told to stay on benefits, that he needed a degree that would take years and tons of money, and that he could only do a volunteer peer mentor program.

I met Stuart at the end of 2020, Stuart was looking for support to pursue a career helping others along their recovery journey. Like me he thought he needed to spend years getting a degree to do this, luckily I am very good friends with his sponsor who recommended Stuart call me!

We spoke over the phone and I asked him about his goals, what he wants to do etc. He was so optimistic and eager to explore, learn and do something with himself! I told him about the Recovery Coach Academy Training we were offering, he said “I’m only 3 months clean, I said that’s okay.”

I told Stuart that we were doing a free webinar that day over “What is Recovery Coaching” I suggested he attend, and afterward we could talk and he could tell me what he thought about it. He showed up to the webinar early, fully engaged, asking questions, participating, everything. Following the webinar, I remember telling mom “how impressed I was that he was only 3 months on his recovery journey”. I followed up with Stuart to hear what he was thinking, he said “I want to be a recovery coach” so we worked together to create a plan for him to attend the Training.

On the first day of training, he shows up bright and early yet again, fully engaged. I followed up with him after the first training day to check on him, and see how he was doing. He loved it! He would say things like “this is supporting my recovery more than rehab did” and “I wish I would have had a recovery coach support me when I left rehab”. It’s amazing to watch honestly. Even his sponsor was so proud saying;

“When he engaged with the Recovery Coach Academy it sounded like a positive step. However, it’s been far, far better. He’s learning, he’s motivated and he now has a vision for his future, both in recovery and as a career. He’s learned so much from Calliese and Naetha and now has a tremendous thirst for more with a supportive community.”

Stuart's story shows just how powerful Recovery Coach Training is, he was able to connect to a supportive community, increase his recovery capital, as well as take actionable steps to pursue his passion.

A couple of weeks ago Stuart called me and asked if he could list me as a reference, I cried. He said he was going to start working at the rehab he once attended, he said he was using everything he learned in the Recovery Coach Academy and it’s changed his life. I was so proud and moved by his accomplishments.

Guess what? He celebrated 9 months in Recovery a couple of weeks ago.

This is what we live for, this is why we do what we do.

So does “clean time” really matter?

I’m gonna go with Phil Valentine on this one and say clean time is a crock of crap.

Please feel free to email us at

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Unknown member
Sep 17, 2021

I feel that Recovery Capital is a much better indicator than "time" in recovery. A person could have only a couple of months of continuous recovery due to a return to using after they had achieved 5 or 10 years. If they had gained a lot of Recovery Capital during those years, the damage, both in-depth and length, is likely to be a lot less severe than it would have been. And after just a few months back in recovery, they are probably much more knowledgeable than the person with 2 or 3 years. I'm with you and Phil; clean time IS a crock.


Unknown member
May 24, 2021

I seem to remember that clean time was required to be of service at certain meetings . I think there's valid points for and against this one.

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