Though 12-step programs are not for everyone, those who do participate in them are likely familiar with the term “sponsor.” In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a sponsor is a person who can offer a newcomer support and understanding based on personal experience. Sponsors often take those who are newly sober through the 12 steps and act as a mentor of sorts.
The process of finding an AA sponsor is difficult for some people, as it can be frustrating to try and find the right match. But for some in recovery, having a sponsor is vital for lasting recovery. The good news is that you can always find a new sponsor if someone is not working out. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for your own sponsor.
Make Sure Your Potential Sponsor Has The Recommended One Year Of Continuous Sobriety
This is often the minimum suggested amount of sober time for someone to be a sponsor. It’s important for a sponsor to have a good grip on their own sobriety before they try to help others with theirs. Often the one year mark is a good indicator that someone has been working the program and is doing well on their own journey. When a potential sponsor has their own sobriety under control, they are likely to be more helpful and insightful when it comes to helping someone else new to sobriety, like yourself. They can draw from their own experiences and remember how they felt when they entered AA, which is something that is valuable to newcomers and makes them feel less like they are the only ones who have struggled.
Before Asking, Make Sure Someone Actually Wants To Be A Sponsor
Often during meetings, a chair of the meeting will ask all those willing to sponsor to raise their hands. This is a good time to be observant so that you don’t approach someone and ask them to sponsor you when they are not ready and haven’t volunteered. This way they don’t feel pressured to say yes if they have not volunteered. Observing who is willing to sponsor also gives you a chance to observe these people and consider who may be the best match for you and your recovery.
A Good Sponsor Is A Genuine, Honest, And Happy Person, And Has What You Want
Though these qualities are not necessary for an AA sponsor, it’s worth considering that a person who possesses them may be someone you want to learn from. Someone who is genuine and happy with their life is likely doing something right, especially in their sobriety.
If you see someone in recovery and think, “Wow, I wish I could be like them. They look so happy and content,” then that person would probably make a good sponsor, and maybe even a good sober friend. But if you see someone who appears miserable in sobriety (even though they may have been sober quite some time) they’re probably not the best option as a sponsor. You want someone who will bring out the best in you but also challenge you.
A Sponsor Should Be Someone You Are Not Attracted To In A Sexual Manner
Often in AA, it’s said that women should sponsor women and men should sponsor men, as to avoid romantic entanglements. Of course, some women are attracted to women and vice versa. Regardless of sexual orientation, it’s important that your sponsor is not someone you think about in a sexual manner. This helps to avoid distractions and focus on recovery rather than elements of a relationship. According to AA’s Questions and Answers on Sponsorship, “A.A. experience does suggest that it is best for men to sponsor men, women to sponsor women. This custom usually helps our members stay focused on the A.A. program. Some gay men and lesbians feel an opposite-sex sponsor is more appropriate for similar reasons.”
A Sponsor Should Have Time For Sponsees
This is a quality that may be tough to gauge at first, but one way to find out a little more is to ask someone how many sponsees they already have. As with anything in life, it is possible for a sponsor to overcommit and take on too much (or too many sponsees, in this case). While having many sponsees doesn’t mean someone isn’t a good sponsor, it might make more sense to look for someone who only has one or two so you can be sure they will have time to dedicate to walking you through the steps and being there as you need.According to
According to The Alcoholism Guide, “You have to choose your AA sponsor wisely though as they become a very influential figure in your life, and a crutch in time of your greatest need. Sponsors are at liberty to tell you that they cannot help if they have urgent business elsewhere…However, they have a moral duty to put you in contact with another reliable person if you are facing a crisis and a possible alcoholism relapse and they cannot support you at that time.”
Choosing an AA sponsor can be intimidating and for some, even scary. But with the right information and tools, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the best type of person to sponsor you.