Anyone who is new to attending 12-step meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) will be strongly encouraged to find a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can guide a sponsee through the 12-steps, and someone who can support the sponsee for a period of his or her recovery from addiction.
If you’re at the point of finding the right sponsor for yourself, it would be wise to choose someone you can imagine having a supportive relationship with. The following guidelines are meant to point you in the right direction:
- A sponsor should be working with their own sponsor too. Look for someone who has a sponsor themselves. Someone who has a sponsor will know what the sponsor/sponsee relationship is like. He or she will have a model for the kind of support that a sponsor gives to them. Also, someone who has a sponsor will know the ways that the sponsor has supported them, and in return can provide that kind of support to you.
- A sponsor should have more experience in their sobriety than you. In fact, they should be secure in their sobriety and firmly rooted in living sober.
- Your sponsor should be someone of the same gender. Those who are heterosexual should choose a sponsor that is not of the opposite sex, and the opposite is true for homosexuals. The point is that you don’t want a sexual attraction to get in the way of your growing recovery. Your sponsor should provide sober help, not take you out on a date.
- Your sponsor should be well versed in the 12-steps. There are some in recovery who attend Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings, but who give the 12-step program lip service. If you want to find someone to help you “work the steps”, you’ll need someone who knows those steps well. Ideally, this is someone who has worked each of the steps in their own life and has experienced the benefits of doing so.
- Your sponsor should be able to speak the truth to you, even if it hurts. A good sponsor will not hide what needs to be said. This is particularly important in recovery from addiction because denial is such a strong force prior to getting treatment. Someone who can speak honestly about what they see in your life can be hard to face but worth it if you really want to change.
These are some points to consider when looking for a good sponsor. If you’re going to really make this change in your life, then why not find someone that’s really going to facilitate this transformation for you.
At the same time, you might find that your sponsor/sponsee relationship grows to dysfunctional, unhealthy, or not useful anymore. Of course, you always have the option of choosing another sponsor at any point. In fact, one of the greatest advantages to getting sober is reclaiming your freedom and empowerment. And here’s a place to exercise that freedom. When you’re with a sponsor who is not supporting you the way that you need, find another one.
However, ideally, you’ll find someone that strongly encourages change in your life, not only at the start of your sobriety but throughout your recovery.
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