When Alcoholics Anonymous was formed by Bill Wilson and his friend Dr. Bob, there were few attendees. In the 1930’s, drug addiction and alcoholism were anomalies. Aside from mental hospitals, there was little solution to the insanity which drove men and women to drink. After word of AA’s success grew, so did the program. As the size of attendees grew the need for people who could support these “newcomers” did as well. Helping a fellow alcoholic take the 12 steps was how the role of a sponsor was developed. Today, a sponsor is a confidant, mentor, and guide through the journey of recovery. Choosing a sponsor is not a contract. However, the 12 steps require honesty. Finding a sponsor in whom you can trust and open up honestly to will be beneficial to your recovery process.
4 Characteristics of a Good Sponsor
First, sponsors are recommended to be of the same sex. Women should be sponsored by women and men should be sponsored by men. Many young adults in recovery from addiction and alcoholism have parental issues in their stories, or have experienced sexual abuse. These situations can complicate a sponsorship relationship with someone of the opposite sex.
Second, a good sponsor will have experienced his own recovery from drug abuse or alcoholism through a 12-step program. The sponsor’s primary purpose is to take you through the 12 step process. Having completed the steps on their own is a basic requirement. In addition, a sponsor who has experienced the same stresses and challenges you have can foster feeling of solidarity and trust. Sponsor relationships are strengthened through shared experiences.
Third, a sponsor should have their own sponsor. Nobody has all of the answers in recovery. One of the best examples a sponsor can set is that it is acceptable to seek help and admit that they don’t know everything. A sponsor who has their own sponsor demonstrates the ability to be resourceful in finding help and support.
Last, your sponsor’s actions and lifestyle should show you that they enjoy life, live in the moment, and will not be dragged down by life’s stresses or inconsistencies. Recovering addicts are most at risk for a relapse when they have not developed good mechanisms to handle triggers, like stress, that can create otherwise unbearable cravings for drugs. Recovery also needs to be about fun. Wanting what your sponsor has in their life will be inspiration for you in yours.
Sustain Recovery Services offers a 12-step based extended care program for adolescents and young adults in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Our daily program includes scheduled time for our clients to meet and work with their Sponsor. For more information on our unique aftercare program, please call 949-407-9052.