If you are participating in Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings as one means of sustaining long-term sobriety after undergoing treatment, another person in recovery (or an addiction professional) has probably recommended you seek out a sponsor. For many, this may seem like a daunting task. Still, with guidance, you should be able to locate a person who can serve as a voice of reason and do what is necessary to help you stay responsible and accountable throughout recovery.
What Is an AA Sponsor?
AA defines a suitable sponsor as “an alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program and shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through AA.”
Simply put, a sponsor is an individual who has been in the program and has been sober for a prolonged period and can help people new to recovery to prevent relapse and stay clean and sober. They may act as a mentor or guide of sorts, someone to whom individuals new the program can ask for advice and lead meeting participants through the 12-step process.
Considerations for Deciding on AA Sponsor
It would be best to consider the following several factors when choosing an individual who will serve well as your AA sponsor.
Consider the length of time a potential sponsor has sustained sobriety. The general rule is that an individual who volunteers to be an AA sponsor should have at least one full year of sobriety behind them. This achievement demonstrates that this person has been working the program, and it has helped him or her sustain sobriety.
In turn, they will, therefore, pass on their successful strategies and experiences to the person they are going to sponsor. Moreover, a person who has been abstinent for a significant amount of time has garnered more insight into what sobriety is really like following the first few months of recovery.
Consider the sex and/or gender of the sponsor. It has been suggested that females should sponsor other females, and males should sponsor other males. It is believed that it is generally more comfortable for most people to share information with another person of the same sex or gender, as this is often private and specific to this unique relationship.
Same-sex sponsorship can sometimes limit the likelihood of romantic feelings from developing, which can be distractive and undermine sobriety and recovery, especially in the first year. That said, this tradition does not consider emerging gender identities or sexual orientation. Moreover, the basis for this idea is that you should choose a person you believe you will be comfortable with and not be potentially attracted and perhaps tempted to pursue romantically.
Research a potential sponsor’s commitment to sobriety. Ask the following: do they have a sponsor themselves? How thoroughly do they work the twelve steps? Do they appear to be happy and fulfilled with sobriety and their new life? A “no” response to any of these questions may be a warning sign that the potential sponsor may not be the right individual for the role because a suitable sponsor should practice what they preach.
Consider how many other sponsees he or she has at present. Although it’s often a good sign when a potential sponsor has other sponsees, if they have more than three, it might behoove you to find another sponsor who has fewer sponsees and has more time to devote the individualized support you are going to need.
Make sure the potential sponsor wants to be a sponsor. Just because a person has worked the program for some time does not necessarily mean they are comfortable enough to sponsor you. Usually, at AA meetings, however, there will be a time in which those who wish to be sponsors will raise their hands. Take note of this to avoid approaching a participant who is not actively willing to be a sponsor.
Consider the personality of the potential sponsor. Sometimes having an underlying common denominator, such as being in recovery, is not enough to forge a strong connection between individuals. While many people may appreciate some sponsors’ brutal honesty when it comes to accountability, others may not take so well to this approach. It’s essential to seek a person who is a good match for your personality and needs.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
Attending AA meetings and finding a sponsor has helped millions of individuals achieve sobriety and maintain long-lasting abstinence. However, AA does not always work well as an alternative for professional treatment. Instead, it should be just one fundamental tool used as part of a more comprehensive, personalized approach.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer evidence-based, individualized treatment programs designed to address addiction’s behavioral aspects and the emotional issues that affect a person’s overall health and wellness. Essential services include behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and much more.