Talking to a Sponsor

Navigating early recovery can be an overwhelming feeling, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and a sponsor is someone who can support and guide you in your newfound sobriety. You might’ve heard the term “Recovery Community” throughout your recovery journey. This truly highlights the overall foundation of what it means to be in recovery. You are NOT alone; you have support from people all over who believe in you and want to see you flourish. Getting a sponsor can help you acclimate to your new life in recovery.

What is a Sponsor?

A sponsor is someone that helps a person who is newly sober from drugs or alcohol. The sponsor helps the newly recovered addict through mentoring and supporting them, as well as by offering friendship. A sponsor is also a confidant who truly understands where you’ve been and you can confide in your sponsor, telling them things you might not be comfortable sharing in a meeting.

Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees. Some describe their sponsor as loving and compassionate, someone they can count on to listen and support them no matter what. Others value the objectivity and detachment a sponsor can offer, relying on their direct and honest input even when it may be difficult to accept. Still others turn to a sponsor mainly for guidance through the Twelve Steps [1].

Why Should I Get a Sponsor?

Sponsorship is a key feature of traditional drug and alcohol self-help groups. It is a source of interpersonal support provided by an individual who is in a more advanced stage of recovery to an individual at an earlier stage of recovery[2].

Having a sponsor assures the newcomer that there is at least one person who understands the situation fully and cares — one person to turn to without embarrassment when doubts, questions or problems linked to alcoholism arise. Sponsorship gives the newcomer an understanding, sympathetic friend when one is needed most. Sponsorship also provides the bridge enabling the new person to meet other alcoholics — in a home group and in other groups visited[3].

How Can I Get a Sponsor?

At the end of many AA or NA meetings, the leader will ask people interested in being a sponsor to raise their hands. If this doesn’t happen at the meeting you attend, you can also let your group know that you are looking for a sponsor. You can also approach someone in your group one-on-one before or after a meeting. It’s recommended to attend 90 meetings in your first 90 days of recovery, which can allow you to establish a home group and get to know other members and learn who could possibly be a good sponsor for you.

  • Go to meetings – The more meetings you attend, the more people you’ll meet.
  • Try not to be nervous – It can be scary to step outside your comfort zone which you likely understand having already gone through treatment. Everyone in your meeting understands where you’ve been. You’re not alone.
  • Asking for a sponsor – Would you believe that finding a sponsor is as easy as just asking? It’s true! You can raise your hand at a meeting or even approach another member one-on-one.

Choosing the Right Sponsor

Both Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer guides to help you select the best sponsor for yourself.

AA- The process of matching newcomer and sponsor is as informal as everything else in A.A. Often, the new person simply approaches a more experienced member who seems compatible, and asks that member to be a sponsor. Most A.A.s are happy and grateful to receive such a request.

NA – A good rule of thumb is to look for someone with similar experiences who can relate to our struggles and accomplishments. For most, finding a sponsor of the same sex makes this empathy easier and helps us feel safe in the relationship. Some feel gender need not be a deciding factor. We are free to choose our own sponsor. It is, however, strongly suggested that we avoid getting into a sponsorship relationship that may lead to sexual attraction. Such attraction can distract us from the nature of sponsorship and interfere with our ability to share honestly with each other.

Regardless of which meetings you go to, a good general rule to follow is to find someone who already has a solid knowledge of recovery. One year in recovery is typically the minimum before someone can be a sponsor, but more time is better. You should look for someone who is open-minded, can give their full attention, and have the time needed to dedicate to you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and needs help, please contact Coastal Detox today at 877-978-3125.

[1] Sponsorship, Revised: NA Fellowship literature

[2] An Exploration of the Psycho-Social Benefits of Providing Sponsorship and Supporting Others in Traditional 12-Step, Self-Help Groups: National Library of Medicine

[3] Questions and Answers on Sponsorship: AA Fellowship literature