What You look for in a Drug or Alcohol Sponsor

What to Look for in a Sponsor

The part of the sponsor in any 12-step programme such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and other fellowships, is to offer a backing structure for the new arrival. An alcoholic or addict that has newly made a choice to halt and stop using drugs and alcohol is in a very difficult and dangerous position.

The best option they have is to actually talk to a person who has been there and knows exactly the hell they are going through.

Rehab in Johannesburg Alex on the First Steps to Recovery and sponsor help

Sponsors In The Beginning

When founding members Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith came together in 1935 through a sponsorship, Wilson, who was only a couple of months sober from incapacitating alcohol addiction, this treatment was nothing like the 12-step programmes or even a consideration of what a sponsor could be. The only other treatment option for drug addiction or alcoholism was a mental hospital. That’s when he met Dr. Smith and they put together the first drafts and ideas around a supportive structure and a programme where sponsors would be a key element.

In the 1940s, hospitals began to necessitate that drug and alcoholic patients would have to find a “sponsor” who would be a recovering addict from a local programme, before they could be released. Sponsors had to be there to receive them when the recovering alcoholic was released, and they guided them through the process and took them along to their first meetings. Therefore the term: “sponsor” evolved.

To join a 12-step programme you don’t actually have to have a sponsor. A lot of recovering addicts go for years before finding one that they can work with. But having a sponsor, someone you can depend on is a huge help in keeping clean safe and on the right track. Since AA, NA and other platforms’ roles are as support groups, sponsorships are a substantial factor in recovery and ongoing sobriety. It’s of vital import to select a sponsor with similar or correct qualities that can help and guide you, as oftentimes they are the first people you will get hold of when you are in desperate times and in moments of weakness.

Qualities to look for in a Sponsor.

They Are Comfortable & Happily Sober:

Experts recommend choosing a sponsor that has successfully completed at least four or even five years of sobriety. If a sponsor is able to answer your questions about recovery, it requires they must have been through a similar experience as you have been themselves. Ideally, a sponsor is someone that has been clean and sober for at least a year and has successfully completed all twelve steps.

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Sponsors Are Not Sexually Attractive or you are not attracted to them:

A sponsor needs to be there as an impartial party that you can trust. You should never choose them for any other reason than to help you or another addict achieve sobriety.
Sex introduces a lot of complications, and for that reason, it is better to select a sponsor of the same gender – or the opposite for gay people.

They Listen More Than They Talk:

The sponsor is there to encourage the newcomer’s integration into the programme. They are not your therapist, boss or clergy member. They are there to answer your questions about sobriety, not to treat co-occurring conditions, preach personal beliefs or order you around.

They Display a Positive Attitude:

Obviously, a person that maintains a poor attitude toward sobriety is a bad choice for sponsorship. They should also have a positive mindset about their recovery and offer reinforcement as needed. For example, they will encourage you to participate in group activities or identify common mistakes made by newcomers.

You Met a Sponsor at a Meeting:

This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t pick up an AA sponsor at the bar, ball game or beach. The best place to find fully integrated members is at recovery meetings.

They Have Enough Time:

Substance abuse, personality disorders and addiction don’t follow a work schedule. You have to find a sponsor that has enough time to talk to you throughout the week and can promptly return your messages. That means picking someone who doesn’t already have several sponsees.

You Don’t Dread Contacting your Sponsor:

Overall your sponsor is someone that the newcomer can trust and relate to throughout the process of recovery. If your instincts tell you something isn’t right, or you literally dread picking up the phone to talk to your sponsor, it is okay to seek out a new one. AA has rules in place for such situations.

Finding a Sponsor can be awkward:

It may take more than one try. But remember that the programme is there to provide a foundation for other addicts in the same place they once were, and they want to help you. In the end, sponsorship is an important relationship that is paramount to successful recovery through 12-step programmes.

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