8 Qualities to Look For in a Sponsor
What is a Sponsor?
Having a sponsor is perhaps the most powerful tool to have in order to be successful at recovery. A sponsor is someone who offers guidance and support to a sponsee, particularly when it comes to working the steps. Your sponsor not only guides you through the steps but also helps you navigate life in sobriety, offering advice and insight when you are unsure of what to do in a given situation – from dating to conflicts at work.
History of Sponsorship
Sponsorship has been an important element of fellowship recovery from its inception. The founding members of AA realized that what was keeping them sober was helping other people. And, in fact this is how AA began: with one alcoholic reaching out to another. Bill Wilson was struggling to stay sober on his own. He was on the verge of relapse when he got the idea of helping another alcoholic. He rang around the local hospitals looking for suitable candidates and found Dr. Bob – their meeting is considered to be the birth of AA.
What to Look For in a Sponsor
Considering some specific qualities to look for in a sponsor is important when choosing a sponsor who’s a good fit. Finding a sponsor that can really help you can make all the difference in you recovery and success with sobriety.
8 Qualities to Look For in a Sponsor
Has What You Want:
Choose a sponsor that has a strong program of recovery and who is secure in their own sobriety. Listen out for those who share at meetings and who have a good perspective on things. As they say in AA, stick with the winners.
Lives the Solution (not the problem):
Again, listen out for those who share about what works for them; who don’t dwell on the problem, itself. Also, avoid those who seem to only talk about their war stories – this isn’t living in the solution whatsoever.
Walks the Talk in All Affairs:
Some people are good at presenting themselves as working a strong program but only show up to the meetings and pay good lip service to the program. These people have a good understanding of the program as they are able to talk the talk really well but, they don’t actually live the work, meaning that they are hypocrites.
Has a Sponsor:
Be sure to choose a sponsor who has worked the steps with a sponsor and who continues to have a sponsor while sponsoring you. It’s important to stay deeply connected to this tradition because, going off with some rogue person who might want to practice their own form of sponsorship will not serve you.
Emphasizes Step Work and the Traditions:
Make sure you pick a sponsor who is committed to working the steps with you and who is knowledgeable about the program’s traditions. Step work and traditions are the foundation of recovery that lead to success at sobriety.
You want to choose a sponsor who is actually available for telephone calls and meetings in person. Some people say they are available to sponsor but then are difficult to get a hold of due to work or even social commitments (perhaps they have a family). It is important to build a relationship with your sponsor and, in order to do so, you will need to actually speak and meet with this person regularly. And it is especially important to be able to get in touch with your sponsor if you are having a particularly bad day and are thinking about using or drinking.
Emphasizes the Spiritual Aspect:
The sponsor you choose should understand the importance of building a strong spiritual foundation and someone who, themselves, has a spiritual aspect in their recovery program. This is what will have you feeling better and stronger and bolster your sobriety.
It is treacherous to choose someone of the opposite sex to sponsor you (if you are gay or lesbian, you should choose someone of the gender you can relate the most to). Working the steps can be intense and can leave you feeling vulnerable. Your sponsor needs to be someone trustworthy and with whom there is no possibility for intimate feelings to develop.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.