Some of the most popular – and successful – addiction recovery programs are 12-Step programs. Based on the original Alcoholics Anonymous program, these support groups help people remain sober by working through underlying issues that may have caused them to drink or use drugs. A primary component of 12-Step programs is having a sponsor.
A sponsor is a sober mentor, someone who has a longer period of sobriety under their belt than you do and one who has finished all 12 of the Steps. They can answer questions about the steps and be a listening ear when you’re triggered to drink or use drugs.
What Does a 12-Step Sponsor Do?
AA and NA sponsors are senior members of the program who have been sober and in recovery for at least a year. They can help:
- Navigate membership and find a home group for you
- Answer questions about the program
- Help you work on the 12 Steps
- Be an accountability partner for you
Your sponsor has been in your shoes before and understands firsthand the struggles of the early stages of sobriety. They’re a person you can confide things in that you don’t feel comfortable sharing in meetings.
Studies indicate that people who have a sponsor tend to have better attendance in their 12 Step group and become more involved in the program, reducing the incidence of relapse.
What Does a 12-Step Sponsor Not Do?
Sponsors are your mentor through your 12-Step program, not a professional addiction counselors. Many groups also advise not having a sponsor who is a close friend or someone with whom you have a romantic involvement.
For the sponsor-sponsee relationship to work, honesty and objectivity are key. Long-standing personal relationships may be detrimental to those objectives. Some people may be more comfortable with a person of the same gender and close in age, while others may benefit from a new perspective from someone who isn’t.
What matters most is that you’re comfortable talking to your sponsor and trust them. Sponsor relationships aren’t set in stone and are usually temporary until you become a senior member of your program. You and your sponsor may become friends and supportive of one another. Or, you may find that the relationship isn’t helping you achieve your goals, or the two of you simply don’t click. It’s fine to seek a new sponsor.
How Can I Find a Sponsor?
You may be able to connect with a sponsor through the group leader or by reaching out to someone in the group directly. Each group may have different conventions. Try not to take it personally if someone turns you down. They may have another sponsee or may not have the time to help you work through the steps. If you’re struggling to find a sponsor in your home group, you may be able to reach out to the local AA or NA community for help finding a sponsor.
Are You Struggling With Addiction?
If you’re struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans have substance abuse problems, and thousands each year seek treatment. At Hickory Treatment Centers, we can help. We offer comprehensive addiction treatment from trained professionals and can help you start your journey to sobriety. Contact us today for more information.