What Is a Sponsor and Why Do I Need One?

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Participating in a 12-Step recovery program for addiction involves more than just attending meetings. A successful program recommends that every person has a sponsor who will serve as an essential part of their recovery journey. It may be difficult to share experiences or tell your story in a group setting. You may feel more comfortable sharing these things with a mentor who you trust. This is the role of a sponsor.

What Is a Sponsor?

A sponsor is an individual who has already been in recovery, typically for at least a year. This person serves as a reliable mentor to you during your recovery. A sponsor has personal experience with the 12-Step approach and can offer advice and guidance to those who are new to recovery or looking for extra support. Your sponsor will help you navigate the Twelve steps, answer your questions, motivate your progress, and offer accountability when necessary.

A sponsor is someone who has walked in your shoes and can understand exactly what you are feeling and experiencing. They share their personal experiences with addiction and recovery while being a useful and effective resource for your sobriety. Maybe you don’t like the idea of sharing your insecurities or fears in a group setting. Don’t worry, a sponsor is here to help!

All sponsors are temporary. It’s important to set boundaries and expectations with your sponsor up front. Always be appreciative of their time and willingness to support you in your recovery.

What Is a Sponsor Not?

A sponsor is not a therapist. Although sponsors offer insight and make recommendations for your recovery, you will not receive professional help from a sponsor like you would from a therapist. A sponsor should not push their personal views or opinions on you, as your recovery journey is unique to you. For a relationship with a sponsor to be successful, objectivity and honesty are crucial.

Why Do I Need a Sponsor?

Typically, a sponsor is recommended for individuals who are either just beginning their recovery journey or may need some extra support. No matter how long you have been clean, sober, or abstinent in your recovery, you will always be practicing the principles of the Twelve Steps. For many, it is crucial to have a mentor to motivate and help you work the steps, even if you have been in recovery for years. Relapse is always one drink or one hit or one pill away, and having a reliable resource available when cravings or temptations arise can significantly affect your response to them.

There are many other benefits that come with having a sponsor. Aside from knowing that they’ve walked in your shoes, sponsors offer their time and energy by putting faith in you and your recovery. They know how difficult recovery can be on your mental and physical health. They see the value in sobriety and empower you to believe that you too can achieve it. A sponsor will hold you accountable for your actions. Even if your relationship with your sponsor is more distant, having a sponsor promotes a sense of purpose for you in your recovery.

How Can I Find a Sponsor?

If this is your first time looking for a sponsor, there are a few things to consider. Every potential sponsor has different strengths and weaknesses. Some sponsors have excellent communication skills and encourage open conversation, while others are a bit more distant and wait for you to approach them with concerns. Some sponsors have been sober for a year, while others have been sober for decades.

Here are some things to consider about a potential sponsor:

  • How long has this person been sober?
  • What are they sober from?
  • Have they experienced relapse?
  • How old is this person?
  • Are they religious?
  • What is this person’s communication style?
  • Do they already have enough sponsees?

Always remember that regardless of these factors, a willing sponsor will want what’s best for you during your recovery.

Many old-timers will say “find someone who has what you want,” but it may help to develop a relationship with the person first. You’ll want to know if the person is already committed to sponsoring other people because taking on another sponsee could overwhelm them. You will know when the time is right to ask for their sponsorship. Try to be direct with your proposal, but also acknowledge that they don’t have to be your sponsor. If you’re not successful with the first person you ask, take some time to consider another individual. Remember that everything happens for a reason, and your potential sponsor is out there somewhere!

Many treatment centers that focus on the 12-Steps and encourage sponsorship will be able to lead you in the direction of finding the right sponsor for you. Many local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) groups have willing individuals who serve as temporary or permanent sponsors as well.

Jaywalker Lodge knows how essential it is to have a sponsor during your recovery journey. A sponsor not only motivates and supports you in your recovery, but serves as a reliable resource when any personal challenges arise. A sponsor has walked in your shoes and chooses to put their time and energy into believing in you and your recovery. A sponsor is there to answer your questions, help you navigate the Twelve Steps, and empower you when you are feeling low. If you’re just beginning your recovery or are looking for extra support, Jaywalker Lodge can supply you with the resources you need to find a willing sponsor. We focus on supporting men and guiding them on their journey to lasting sobriety. We believe that everyone deserves to experience peace with their addiction through recovery, no matter what your recovery efforts looked like in the past. Today is a new day, and it’s a great day to get started. Call us now at (866) 529-9255

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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