During the 12-Step portion of your recovery, it’s important to find a sponsor to help you through your journey. But this is no ordinary task, as a sponsor fills many vital, even life-saving needs. Not only is this person selected to help you through the 12-Step process, answer questions, and offer accountability – they become a lifeline in the sea of challenges you will face as you navigate sobriety. In fact, they say the relationship with your sponsor, is your first sober relationship – so choose wisely.
First, what is a sponsor? Technically, a sponsor is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) who has been sober for at least a year at the minimum, who has successfully completed the 12-Steps and can help others do the same. A sponsor is also someone whom you can confide in and trust. Searching for a sponsor during recovery can be an intimidating experience for some people and many questions arise during this process such as:
– Can I trust this person?
– Is this person the right fit for my personality?
– What if they say no?
– Can my sponsor be someone I already know?
Other 12-Step programs may have different philosophies on sponsorship, but the core of the sponsor relationship is typically the same. Ultimately, this whole selection process all boils down to one big question – what’s the right kind of person for you? Below are some key points and thoughts to consider when choosing the right sponsor.
The leader of the program will ask people interested in being a sponsor to raise their hands, or you can also let your group know that you are looking for one. It’s okay and encouraged to approach someone in your group before or after a meeting to ask them to become your sponsor. Don’t take it personally if the person turns you down. They may decline because of other obligations and don’t have the time to dedicate to be a good sponsor – so don’t take it to heart. Just stay persistent in your search, you’ll be so grateful you did. And if you can’t find someone right away, there are some meetings that have temporary sponsors available.
Experience is Key
When considering a sponsor, you want someone who is active with the program you are involved in and who truly understands what you are going through. If it’s AA, the sponsor typically has at least one year of sobriety, comprehends the importance of the literature, and has been abstinent for two or more years. A sponsor who has already sponsored other members and/or has worked through all of the steps is ideal. Do your research on the program, ask lots of questions and find someone who truly understands the road you’ve been on.
Are They Available?
During your initial time in recovery, you will need to trust that your sponsor can help you work through the steps at any time or, at the very least what is considered reasonable between the both of you. Get to know the people in your group and ask questions about their day to day life and responsibilities. Trust your instincts and watch to see if someone you are considering a sponsor is a regular at meetings, is available when you call or text, can attend meetings with you and is able to handle moments of crisis.
It’s A Matter of Trust
A sponsor is someone who you will be taking moral inventory with as well as admitting your deepest secrets, biggest screw-ups, and greatest fears – so, trust is key in the relationship. It’s important to take time to meet with someone before officially asking them to be your sponsor. Offer to take your prospect out for coffee and really see if you both are compatible if they listen and validate your feelings, and most importantly, if she or he truly understands your needs in recovery and can be trusted. Your sponsor should respect your confidentiality, as you should theirs and instill a feeling of safety without judgment. During sobriety, you will be working through some serious moments and trust is the key to a healthy sponsor-sponsee relationship.
Opposites Can Attract
A Sponsor-sponsee relationship needs to connect on some level, and it always helps if you share similar personality traits and beliefs. However, it’s also okay if the person is different from you too as differences force both of you to focus on your main goal – addiction and long-term sobriety. However, it’s important to note that a sponsor should not impose any judgment or personal beliefs on you. Yes, it’s okay to be different, but that should also come with respect for the other person’s views, values, and belief systems.
No Romantic Interests
AA and NA advise choosing a member of the opposite sex to avoid any romantic relationships. This also pertains to the gay or lesbian community where it would be better suited in choosing a sponsor of the opposite gender for the same reasons. The thought process behind this guideline is fairly obvious as you’ll have enough going on with your recovery and focusing on your sobriety needs to be put before anything or anyone during this time. However, it’s important to note that no matter how you identify in terms of gender or are non-conforming when picking a sponsor make sure there are no romantic feelings involved – period. This rule allows you to stay abstinent and focus all of your efforts on staying sober.
The bottom line is, selecting a sponsor is a deeply personal choice, and what works for one individual may not work for another. One person might benefit from daily texts and calls, while another may want a less intense kind of approach during the sponsor-sponsee relationship. Forming a relationship this important, with the right person, will ultimately result in keeping you on the right path to recovery. At Silver Lining Recovery, we believe each person’s case is unique and as such, we create tailored plans and goals for each client. We also provide you with the tools and resources, including 12-Step programs, necessary to thrive long after you leave our facility. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance use disorder and needs the right treatment, counseling, and encouragement to begin their road to sobriety, get help today and call Silver Lining Recovery at 1-833-8GROWTH.