What to Look for in a Sponsor


Addiction is a complicated and challenging disease that affects millions of people around the world. Addiction causes continued and compulsive use of particular substances or activities without regard for negative consequences. Some of the most common examples of addiction include Alcohol, drugs, gambling and shopping. Substance abuse and addiction are particularly dangerous and oftentimes deadly because they lead to drastic consequences for drinkers, drug users and their families.

If you are suffering from addiction, you are not alone. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, 1 in 7 Americans will face substance addiction. This is an alarming statistic that speaks to the scope of this public health crisis. If your life has become derailed by drug and Alcohol abuse, it’s always in your best interests to seek professional medical help and the support of family and friends. This includes a sponsor who can help you along this important, lifesaving journey.

What is a Sponsor?

It’s important to first know what a sponsor is and what their responsibilities will be in your journey to recovery. Essentially, a sponsor is a person who can mentor you throughout your recovery. They have been through the rehabilitation process themselves and are successfully maintaining a sober lifestyle. Recovering from addiction can bring out the best in people, and oftentimes those in recovery find it very rewarding and meaningful to help others along their new pathway in life.

Sponsors understand firsthand what it’s like to be addicted, and what this health crisis is doing to the country and its people. Alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse generate more than $740 billion in costs associated with health care, crime and lost work productivity, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sponsors are a wonderful resource, as they feel strongly about mentoring and guiding those struggling with substance abuse toward a better, brighter future.

What Does a Sponsor Do?

Generally speaking, sponsors are senior members of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) who have been in recovery for a year or more. They have had enough time as a sober individual to be able to help others through the process. Sponsors are a great resource to go to for any questions you may have about these recovery programs and the 12-steps of recovery.

Another key responsibility of sponsors is to hold you accountable for sticking to your sobriety and your personal goals. If you say you’re going to work on something, your sponsor will check in with you to see how you’re tracking. Navigating your recovery journey can be daunting and overwhelming on your own, and a sponsor is there to make sure you get it right and stay healthy and happy.

What Can You Tell Your Sponsor?

It’s fine for you to confide in your sponsor and communicate with them about how you’re feeling and what you’re struggling with. There are some things you may not feel totally comfortable with sharing at your meetings, and you can speak to your sponsor about those subjects privately instead. If something you’ve heard at your meetings has piqued your interest and you want to expand on your feelings, talking with your sponsor can make a big difference.

It’s important to maintain an appropriate relationship with your sponsor, so that they can provide the best level of guidance for you during this time. You need to keep in mind that your sponsor is not your personal therapist, so you shouldn’t expect professional-level help or the imposition of their personal views. A sponsor is there to help you stick to the program, continue to move forward and make the most of this new lease on life you’ve been lucky enough to have.

What Else Should You Know About Sponsors?

If you remember one thing about sponsors, it should be that successful sponsorship is linked to improved treatment outcomes, better attendance and more involvement in programs. If you’re looking for long-term success with your sobriety, then taking your sponsorship seriously should be a priority for you. When you have access to a sponsor who has been through similar experiences, you should take advantage of the opportunity to have someone to talk to and go to for help.

In order to have a healthy relationship with your sponsor, honesty, objectivity and openness are key. Ideally, your sponsor will be someone you can trust and respect, but not someone you have a long personal history with. This will give both you and your sponsor a better perspective on the situation. While sponsors are temporary, they do have the power to leave a positive impact on you during this turbulent time in your life.

Sponsors will help you adjust to your new normal, and they can give you insight on what worked for them and what they wish they’d done differently. Everyone is different, and you may prefer having a sponsor who is the same gender as you with a similar story, or the opposite. Sponsors can give you a new way of looking at things and thinking about your addiction with a clear mind.

What Should You do Next?

When you’re ready to take the next steps toward sobriety, a trusted rehabilitation center can help you make the leap and kick your addiction to the curb. This includes a variety of different treatment practices, such as AA or NA programs.

It’s during these programs that your recovering peers may express interest in being a sponsor, and you can move forward from there. If you’re having trouble finding a sponsor, or you’re not sure what to do next, you can always reach out to your rehabilitation resources for more help.

At the end of the day, there’s so much help waiting out there to make a difference in your life. Working toward your sobriety could save your life and give you a second chance to make most of it. If you or someone you love is living with addiction and in need of help, reach out. To talk with someone directly contact us at (866)578-7471.

1 comment
  1. That’s a good point – your sponsor is NOT your therapist! I kind of got the definition of a sponsor mixed up in the past.

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