Even if you’ve never battled an addiction yourself, you’ve likely heard the word “sponsor” in connection with addiction recovery.
A sponsor is a mentor or a guide who has gone through the journey to recovery themselves and is able to mentor or guide another person, known as a sponsee, who is working toward recovery themselves. Sponsors are used in 12-step programs, of which the most famous is Alcoholics Anonymous.
What qualifies someone to be a sponsor in a 12-step recovery program? What exactly do they do? Do you need one?
Who Can Be A Sponsor?
A sponsor is someone who was previously addicted to drugs or alcohol, but has completed a 12-step program and no longer drinks or uses drugs. Sponsors have usually been sober for at least one to two years. Otherwise, there are typically no formal rules for becoming a sponsor.
In fact, it’s often encouraged to be a sponsor if you’ve found success after finishing your 12-step program. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are built on a foundation of service, and serving as a sponsor is a common way to give back to the community.
Sponsors are able to offer their sponsee a different kind of support and advice from a perspective that nobody else can. Sponsors have been in the same situation as the sponsee and know the struggles better than anyone else. Because of this, a lot of people look for a sponsor of the same gender and with a similar background.
What Does A Sponsor Do?
The role of a sponsor in a 12-step program is to support current participants on their journey to recovery. They may help their sponsee work through the 12 steps, offer accountability, or answer any questions.
Sponsor meetings take place separately from the group meetings. These meetings offer the sponsee an opportunity to talk about anything they may not have been comfortable discussing with the group.
It’s also important to note that a sponsor isn’t going to be able to provide professional help, nor are they meant to be a friend. The ability to remain objective is a key factor in what makes a sponsor so effective in your recovery journey.
Should you find a sponsor?
Finding a sponsor to support you through your recovery from addiction isn’t mandatory, but it can make your journey easier.
A sponsor offers a sense of hope, acts as a resource of knowledge, a source of hope, and helps you stay accountable. Everything a sponsor offers is extremely helpful to staying on track and preventing a relapse.