No one understands an addict or alcoholic like another addict or alcoholic, and this belief is a cornerstone in most 12 step meeting foundations. Carrying the burden of having the disease of addiction alone is a heavy weight, and that load is made lighter when shared with another person.
All anyone needs to do to find a sponsor is ask— a task that is both simple and hard.
Finding a Sponsor
Whether you are attending AA/NA/MA/CMA and on and on as the list of meeting types is endless… the beginning of the meeting has a certain protocol. It is customary for participants to read aloud the 12 Traditions of AA and the Principles for example. Also, at the beginning of a meeting, they will celebrate clean time and be introduced to newcomers and visitors to the meeting.
Next, they may make some announcements and then the topic of sponsorship will be brought up. The person of service in the meeting will likely ask for anyone who is willing to be a sponsor to raise their hand, or if you are doing a meeting over Zoom (as a lot of people are these days) they will ask the possible sponsors to put their contact info in the chat. It is simple to find sponsors, all you need to do is go to a meeting and the opportunity to meet one will present itself without you doing anything but showing up.
Asking a Sponsor For Help
The hard part of finding a sponsor for some is asking for help. Picking up the phone and calling the list of names you were given at a meeting can be a terrifying prospect. Thoughts like… “How can I call people I don’t even know? What if they say no? Why would they want to help me anyway?” And not to mention the fact that most of us have been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Then there’s the thought that you definitely don’t want to burden anyone with your problems but fear not! If a person in a meeting raised their hand, or put their number on a list, they want to talk to you.
No one is required to be a sponsor! If someone volunteers to be a sponsor, they have a clear understanding of the therapeutic value of one addict or alcoholic helping another, and how it benefits BOTH the sponsor and the sponsee.
Be brave! Your recovery and the recovery of another depends on it.
What to Look For in a Sponsor
When you are in a meeting and people are sharing their experiences, and you hear something that you can relate to, or you think to yourself “I want what that person has”, ask them!
If you think the person speaking is someone you could hang out with, talk to them! Even if you ask them and they say no, they likely will still want to be a healthy support person for you or a friend. And let’s be honest, most of us could use more sober friends! And you never know, they might have a possible sponsor in mind for you.
What Does a Sponsor Do in AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
To many an alcoholic, AA is their new home. They consider the people there, family. And with an estimated 2 million members worldwide it is obvious that there is something for everybody in the rooms of AA. The only requirement for membership in AA is a desire to stop using. You come as you are and are accepted as such.
AA sponsors offer experienced guidance to their sponsees as they go through the 12 steps. Working the steps of AA has its ups and downs but the benefits are life-changing. The more honest a person gets when they are doing the work of each step, the more healing and freedom is possible for that person to gain.
Having a sponsor that you can trust and are connected to in a transparent way helps keep a person safe, grounded, motivated, and above all, on the sober path during this process. Dredging up hurts and hang-ups from our past can be a slippery slope to relapse, but with a strong connection to healthy social support, a person can overcome those temptations to numb or run away from past trauma.
Here is a link to questions and answers on sponsorship in AA if you want more information:
Finding a Sponsor in NA
As with AA, the only requirement to becoming a member of NA or Narcotics Anonymous is a desire to overcome your addiction. NA doesn’t make a distinction between any type of drug, including alcohol. They also recognize that polysubstance dependence is common and welcome any addict who wants to recover.
Therefore, sponsors of NA are people who may have multiple drugs of choice, including alcohol, that offer guidance and support through the 12 steps. NA has workbooks that the sponsor and sponsee can use on their journey together through those 12 steps that are valuable tools to assist in leading that journey.
Sponsor and Sponsee Relationship
The relationship between a sponsor and sponsee is like no other. If it is a healthy one, they will share things with each other that they never thought they would tell anyone. It may take some time to build the trust it takes to get to that point, but that’s ok. There is no timeline that needs to be met when working the steps, and every persons’ recovery looks different as we are all unique. Trust the process and your higher power to make your bond strong with your sponsor!
When looking at the dynamic of the sponsor/sponsee relationship it is important to note that it is the responsibility of the sponsee to put in the work. The sponsor will not do the work for them, nor rescue them. The job of the sponsor is to guide the sponsee through their individual process and advise them not tell them what to do. They are there to help the sponsee draw out their true feelings about people, the past, and themselves— not to tell them how to feel. They will motivate the sponsee through edification and reinforcement of healthy boundaries— not shame or blame.
To many, an addict or alcoholic these types of healthy sponsor and sponsee boundaries can be new or uncomfortable, but being treated with mutual respect and unconditional love, without judgment can help a person in recovery regain a new and more confident sense of self-love and acceptance.
Find a Sponsor Through OTR
If you are just beginning your recovery journey and would like help figuring out what your next step is, please give us a call and we will assist you in getting the help you need. We are here 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.