When It’s Time to Sponsor

honesty and trust in recovery

Table of Contents

When we are new to recovery, some of the first advice we’re ever given is to get a sponsor. It may seem like a strange concept at first. I mean, what’s a sponsor? Well, we find out what a sponsor is pretty quickly. A sponsor is an alcoholic or addict in recovery who has worked all Twelve Steps and is willing to help others do the same


What do we need a sponsor for? Spoiler alert: we need a sponsor to help us work the Steps ourselves. Literally, we need someone who has worked all Twelve Steps to show us how to do it. More than that, much of the Twelve Steps require us to speak with another person about certain things. Our sponsor is usually the person we talk to whenever the Steps require it.


Our sponsor gets to know about us and our life. We get to know and trust our sponsor. When it’s time to read our inventory, we are comfortable sharing with our sponsor and we trust their advice and feedback. We admire their recovery and their personal growth, so we continue working the Steps with them. When it’s time to make amends, they help us build our list and write our letters. We keep up the process until we’ve worked all Twelve Steps with our sponsor. Having come to the 12th Step, we realize we are now ready to be a sponsor ourselves.


But, how do we know when it’s time to sponsor? How will we know what to do? What if we don’t feel ready? There are lots of helpful things we should keep in mind, so let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a sponsor.


When the Time Is Right


There are no hard and fast rules for when it becomes the right time to sponsor others. The truth is that even if we only have two days of recovery, we can still be of service to someone who has one day. That’s how recovery works. As long as we have worked more of the Twelve Steps than the person or people we sponsor, we can take them through the Steps. We just have to keep up and stay ahead of the game. We can’t take someone else through one of the Twelve Steps if we haven’t worked that step ourselves — seems pretty obvious, right? But as long as we have worked a step with our own sponsor, we can take someone else through it.


This approach can get into a few gray areas pretty quickly, so some may opt for the more traditional timeline. The traditional method of knowing when it’s time to sponsor is written right into the program of recovery. The 12th Step says: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” When reading about the 12th Step in the books Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions, it becomes apparent that when we have reached the 12th Step with our sponsor, we are finally ready and able to become sponsors ourselves.


Once we have completed our first pass through the Twelve Steps, we are armed with all the knowledge and experience necessary to take others through the Twelve Steps as their sponsor.


There’s Nothing To Be Nervous About


A lot of us get nervous as we approach the time when we are cleared to sponsor others. We may start to feel pressure or fear that we aren’t ready. By now we should know that we need to write out those fears and drop them with our sponsor! But seriously, there is nothing to be nervous about. There’s no need to feel any pressure. As a sponsor, we simply let the Twelve Steps and our higher power do all the heavy lifting. Our job is to take others through the Steps just as we were taken through them. We share our experience, strength, and hope with our sponsees. But mostly, we read the Big Book with them and we take them through the Twelve Steps — that’s it. We just do the work, exactly as we did it with our sponsor. There’s nothing to be nervous about.


Things a Sponsor Should Keep in Mind


As a sponsor, we do have a lot of responsibilities, but they might not be what you think. We can’t make our sponsees listen to us or work the Twelve Steps, but what we can do is make sure that we continue working the Steps ourselves with our own sponsor. As a sponsor, staying active with our own Step work is one of the most important things we can ever do. Each time we work the Twelve Steps, we grow and learn more and more, which can only benefit those who we are lucky enough to sponsor. 


And this brings us to our next point: how lucky we are when we get asked to be someone’s sponsor. Sponsoring is one of the greatest gifts that recovery provides us. Being able to help another alcoholic or addict find freedom and recovery is a remarkable and blessed experience unlike any other. It often changes the life of the sponsor as much as it changes the life of the sponsee. One of the major purposes of recovery is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to others, and sponsoring is service at its absolute highest level. So, don’t worry about becoming a sponsor. Just get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!


Jaywalker Lodge is firmly founded upon the 12-Step program of recovery. Everything we do is informed by the Twelve Steps, and we work hard to facilitate all our men having a deep, personal experience with every aspect of the 12-Step program. That’s exactly why we have a thriving network of alumni around Jaywalker Lodge. Those who recover at Jaywalker Lodge often stay close by to continue being of service to the men who are staying at the Lodge now. They know the privilege of being lucky enough to sponsor other alcoholics and addicts, and they stay involved to keep giving back and being of service. Being asked to sponsor is one of the greatest experiences that anyone in recovery can have, and it is often transformative for both sponsor and sponsee alike. If you are struggling with alcoholism or addiction and ready to begin a new life in recovery, Jaywalker Lodge is here to get you started on the right foot. 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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