Picking a sponsor to work with is a critical step to take in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Working the steps is what Alcoholics Anonymous was designed to do. After nearly a century of meetings and groups across the world, Alcoholics Anonymous can sometimes veer away from the book.

That’s why it is critical to find a sponsor who works for you, but also understands the program of action outlined in the book.

Here are some characteristics of a sponsor that you should look for when picking one. These characteristics can help you ensure that you get a sponsor that understands the program and will be able to help you get sober.

Does Your Sponsor Know the Big Book?

The first 164 pages of the Big Book are the instructions for getting sober. It has 12 steps in it, and if these steps are followed with honesty and thoroughness, then your chances of long-term recovery skyrocket.

A good question to ask a potential sponsor is, “Have you read the book, and do you believe in it?”

Some people in Alcoholics Anonymous only go to meetings. That is their program. If you are a chronic relapser or alcoholic, it’s going to be difficult for you to stay sober by just going to meetings.

It doesn’t work for a lot of people.

A good way to determine if your sponsor believes in more than meetings is to ask them about the book.

Do they study it? Do they follow its instructions? Is that what they are going to use to help you go through the steps?

Has Your Sponsor had a Spiritual Awakening?

Ask your potential sponsor if they had a spiritual awakening as the results of the steps.

Doing the steps changes you. It gives you a relationship with a higher power and it completely changes how you think.

The book calls it a spiritual awakening, a psychic change, or attitude adjustment. It is the point of doing the steps and is needed for long-term recovery.

Ask your sponsor if they have changed by doing the steps. Ask them if they have had a spiritual experience. If they look at you surprised or don’t understand, perhaps they are not the right fit for you.

Do They Carry the Message?

Does your sponsor carry the message? Where does your potential sponsor carry the message? Do they consistently do it and can they tell you where they do?

Carrying the message is the 12th step of Alcoholics Anonymous and it is one of the most critical. Working with another alcoholic ensures your recovery more than anything else.

Just because someone is at a meeting does not mean that they are carrying the message and doing what the book requires them to do for continued sobriety.

More About Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a privilege. And by agreeing to work with someone you are probably helping them more than they will help you. That’s what the book says.

You are helping someone fulfill their program.