How to Find a Sponsor for 12 Step Recovery
Sponsors are individuals who have worked through the 12 Steps and are available to help others with their recovery. While a successful recovery is not dependent on having a sponsor, including this person in your life will offer a better chance at staying sober and working through times of temptation. Sponsors share strength, hope and guidance. They introduce sponsees to a spiritual life, and since they’ve been down the same path as their sponsee, they can share their own experiences with addiction and recovery.
Aligning yourself with someone who truly understands the journey to sobriety can be the best gift you can give yourself.
When you start attending a 12-Step Program, there will be sponsors that will introduce themselves during the introductory portion of the meeting. When the meeting breaks or ends, you can talk with these individuals and see if there is someone you would like to have as your sponsor. Sponsors are also available to call; you can find their phone numbers on a “We Care” type list that is passed around during the meeting.
While it may seem natural to choose someone who you like and feel comfortable with, this isn’t the best approach when choosing a sponsor. Instead, consider someone who’s recovery you admire. This person may not be someone you feel comfortable with right off the bat, and that’s okay. The goal is to select a sponsor who will really make a difference in your recovery.
When you have recognized that you need the help of a sponsor and will go through any lengths to recover from addiction, you are ready for a sponsor. However, just because you are part of a 12-Step Program does not mean that you have to choose a sponsor right away. With that being said, many recovering addicts do choose a sponsor early on because they want someone who can offer support and guidance. When you have chosen a prospective sponsor, he/she will suggest some reading materials and then determine if the two of you will make a good fit.
Sometimes, the relationship between a sponsor and sponsee does not work out. This is okay. The sponsee may find that the program or sponsor isn’t the right fit for them. Other times, the sponsor may find that the sponsee isn’t following the given recommendations for staying sober. If either of these situations happens to you, don’t feel guilty about looking for a new sponsor. The ultimate goal is to work with someone who is conducive to your recovery.
We understand that the beginning stages of recovery can feel overwhelming, and this includes starting a 12-Step Program. But rest assured that having a sponsor is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. As we discussed earlier, sponsors offer spiritual guidance, emotional support and personal experience. A sponsor will help you with practical coping skills, and be a listening ear when temptations and frustrations are high.
But, there’s more in a sponsor than just support. Sponsors can help you better understand your disease, something that will help you for the rest of your life. Since addiction doesn’t just “go away,” it’s important to know how to care for yourself in the long term, just as you would with a chronic disease like diabetes. When you recognize the nature of addiction, you can better confront the problems that go along with the disease and find ways to make true change and growth happen.
Remember, in order to achieve true happiness and sobriety, you must do more than stop abusing drugs or alcohol. You must work toward achieving happiness and contentment in your life, and these are the types of things that are learned in a 12-Step Program. Your sponsor will protect you from isolation, open you up to new ideas and help you see the reality of who you really are, even if it means working through things you don’t like about yourself.
While it can be a bit scary to enter a relationship with a sponsor, keep in mind that this will give you the chance to start a relationship based on honesty. For many addicts, their relationships become damaged over time because of lies, denial and dishonesty. If this was the case for you, having a rapport with your sponsor will allow you to work on building a healthy relationship. These skills can then be worked into your personal relationships.
Don’t hesitate to ask someone to be your sponsor. It’s important to seize the opportunity when you have the desire to want to change, as this desire may not always be there. There are no stipulations for recovery, and by opening yourself up to the 12-Step approach, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to be sober.