Sponsorship can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’ve never had a sponsor before. You’re probably not used to having someone you can talk to and lean on in recovery – and now that you’re beginning the process, it can be a bit overwhelming because of the possibilities and challenges that come with sponsorship. 12-Step Programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) serve as a basis for peer support – and with that comes many different opportunities for you to connect with others in recovery. Previous studies have explored the impact that 12-Step programs and sponsorships can help with people who are pursuing addiction recovery, and they’ve found that those who pursue these outlets tend to be more engaged in treatment, experience fewer relapse rates, and have a greater chance of success in sobriety overall.
If you’re new to the world of recovery, it’s best that you begin with gaining a thorough understanding of what sponsorship is – and then move forward with some steps on how to build a great connection with your sponsor so that you can make the most of this experience.
What is a Sponsor?
The Big Book – a comprehensive “guide” to the 12-Steps – explains that sponsorship used to entail supporting a person in several different ways, depending on their availability and the overall sponsorship relationship expectations. Ultimately, a sponsor is someone who helps a person navigate the 12-Steps associated with recovery – and, as a person who has their own experience in getting there, it can be incredibly beneficial for a person to reach their recovery goals.
There are a number of responsibilities that sponsors can take on in recovery, such as:
- Helping individuals work the 12-Steps by applying the principles of the program
- Leading by example
- Sharing their personal stories and experiences of where they once were compared to where they are now
The AA program specifically defines a sponsor as someone who has made progress in their recovery and who shares their knowledge and experiences on a regular basis as the person progresses through recovery. AA has also explained that for those who are new to recovery and are looking to obtain a sponsor, there are some incredible benefits that come with having a sponsor; for example, those in recovery can aid from having someone who will “be in their corner” and support them in ways that are more relatable and understanding. Some consider sponsorship to serve as a “bridge” that connects those at the beginning of their recovery journey with a person who can help them reach their goals.
Finding a Sponsor
Sponsorship is a pretty long commitment, so it’s important for a person to take this relationship seriously. A sponsor is someone a person would work with on a consistent, long-term basis – typically, those in recovery should ask somebody whom they’ve gotten to know pretty well in recovery thus far as compared to asking someone they don’t know as well. Ideally, the best sponsor would be someone who has worked the 12-Steps well and who is quite strong in their recovery. The initial meeting with a potential sponsor could involve getting to know them, learning more about their specific addiction recovery story, challenges they overcame, and then finally their thoughts on possibly working with you in sponsorship.
It’s important that to find the best sponsorship, a person works with someone who has at least a year of sobriety under their belt; in addition to this, it’s important to ask the person you’re considering if they’re currently taking on sponsees, as some people may have only a set number of people they can work closely with.
This is a partnership – and before officially asking someone to be a sponsor, it’s important to get to know who they are. You’ll also want to get a clearer understanding of their personality and how that will play into the sponsorship – do you prefer someone who will be easy to talk to or someone who may be blunter about the challenges that you’re facing? Do you want a relationship where you can laugh over certain situations experienced in recovery, or do you prefer to maintain a more formal relationship with your sponsor? These are just a few factors to consider before officially asking someone, and they can make a world of difference in the rest of your sponsorship experience.
Many people in recovery would explain that sponsorship is something that needs to be practiced, particularly as each person may need something different from their sponsor – and these differences can account for whether a relationship with thrive or fail. In other words, take your time to ensure you have a great pairing before moving forward!
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to seek help. At Burning Tree Ranch, we specialize in long-term care that produces real results, especially for those who have experienced a relapse. Here you will find a team of qualified and compassionate professionals, ready to help each client through a customized treatment program that addresses all aspects of addiction, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. We know that the journey towards recovery doesn’t end with the conclusion of an inpatient program, which is why we provide extensive aftercare programs to best support our clients during their transition into lasting sobriety. We also know that addiction affects the whole family, and therefore loved ones are encouraged to participate in the recovery process and take advantage of all our support resources. For more information, call us today at 512-285-5900.