What Does it Mean to Have a 12-Step Sponsor?

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It’s not uncommon for people to have hesitations about sponsorship when they are new to recovery. Some people think that a sponsor is like a parent – a person that tells them what to do and when to do it. It’s also a concern that the sponsor will judge them and their approach to recovery. Understandably, a recovering addict wouldn’t want to take part in a relationship like this. Fortunately, having a sponsor is completely different.

What is a Sponsor?

A sponsor is someone who has been through the 12 steps of the 12-step program. Their role is to guide you through these steps so that you may make the most of your recovery. The steps may look simple in theory, but they are extremely complex. It’s helpful and encouraging to have someone on your side that can share their strength and experience.

For instance, the 8th step is about making amends with others. This is not easy to do. There is a time and place, as well as a right approach for each amend that you have to make. If you attempt this on your own without help from a sponsor, you could end up causing further damage to these relationships. Sometimes, the person you’re trying to make amends with will need to be left alone. You must be prepared for things not going the way you had hoped.

What Do Sponsors Do?

As you’ve learned, a sponsor’s job is to lead you through the steps and help you understand what they are about. They are not there to boss you around or condemn you. If you ask, they will be happy to provide you with personal experience and guidance. As you’ll learn through a 12-step program, you must have your own experiences in life and recovery. No one can do this for you.

A sponsor is also a great person to share things with. Whether it’s past experiences, misconceptions about the 12 steps or insecurities about your recovery, your sponsor will be there for you. They can assist if you find yourself in a tough spot and be the first person you call when you have the urge to use drugs or drink again. Many longer term recovering addicts admit that their sponsors were the one bright spot in their recoveries and they still talk to them regularly.

Don’t let the misconceptions of having a sponsor scare you away from the idea. Having a sponsor is necessary as you commit to a 12-step program and start moving through the steps. Your sponsor will be your advocate and can help you grow in your understanding of a higher power, living a life of sobriety and helping others.