How Do I Know Which Sponsor Is Right for Me?
You’ve probably heard of 12-Step programs before, and if you’re in early recovery, you’ve probably either attended a meeting already or might be considering attending one soon. The meetings can feel intense, considering you’re in a room full of strangers talking about something extremely personal and uncomfortably heavy. On top of all that, it can also be confusing. There’s so much to learn about the 12-Step philosophy. A lot of people have very different experiences. You’re not sure if you should share or just listen. You may simply feel lost in it all. This is exactly why 12-Step programs have sponsors for new members.
What Is a Sponsor?
In 12-Step programs across the country, new members of meetings can ask another established member to be their sponsor. A sponsor helps new members become acclimated and familiar with the 12-Steps. They work not only as a mentor but as someone who a new member can confide in.
The search for a sponsor normally begins after a new member admits that they have a problem, that they need help, and that they are willing to seek sobriety as a solution to their problem. This usually happens after the first few steps in the 12-Step program. Even if a new member is struggling with accepting a higher power, but still agrees that sobriety is a solution, they are ready to look for a sponsor.
A sponsor is there to answer any questions you might have between meetings about the 12-Step philosophy, living a sober lifestyle, and other important topics. A sponsor is here to support you – they are proof that someone can relate to you, cares about you, and that you aren’t alone in your quest to become a sober person from this point forward.
The Right Candidate
According to literature from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), one of the world’s leading 12-Step programs, the best candidates for sponsors are people who have been part of the program for at least one year and have remained sober during that time. This one-year benchmark allows for your sponsor to have extensive knowledge of the program as well as experience with sobriety. The one-year benchmark also makes sure that your sponsor is in a place in their life where they can make that commitment, especially since the first year of recovery is so vital.
Your sponsor doesn’t necessarily need to have the same background or lifestyle as you. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to having a sponsor who couldn’t be more different than you. The point of a sponsor is to challenge your internalized beliefs and perspectives on life. Listening to someone who agrees with everything you agree with might not provide you with the tools needed to expand your worldview and think outside of your normal thought patterns. Ideally, the perfect sponsor for you is someone you can talk to comfortably, regardless of your respective backgrounds and lifestyles.
AA literature does recommend that your sponsor not be someone with whom you could potentially form a sexual and/or romantic relationship. This could distract from the purpose of having a sponsor, a stranger who doesn’t have any of the biases that might be formed in a relationship. Also, if you are in a relationship, a break-up or any other conflicts could make it difficult to come to that person for help in the future.
Asking Someone to Be Your Sponsor
Depending on the format, most 12-Step programs will ask at the beginning or the end of the meeting for people who are available and interested in sponsoring new members to raise their hands. Your other option is to just ask someone. This idea can be a little scary, especially if you’re afraid of rejection. But please know that if someone does reject your request for sponsorship, it’s not personal. Usually, the person simply can’t commit to taking on a sponsee at that time. If this happens, ask if they know anyone else who might be interested. Since sponsorship is one of the fundamental aspects of 12-Step programs, finding an available sponsor shouldn’t be too difficult.
A Lifelong Friend and Confidant
The relationship you form with your sponsor can truly become one of the strongest connections you’ll form during recovery. This person is someone who understands exactly what you are going through because they’ve been there themselves. They become someone who you can turn to for advice when things become difficult. They become someone who understands you, even if you might feel ashamed. They become someone who guides you through reconnecting with spirituality and forming healthier connections with yourself and others.
Sponsorship is a vital aspect of any 12-Step program. Many programs require a sponsor to advocate for your membership, and a sponsor in a 12-Step program works the same way – except the person they’re advocating for is you. Your sponsor will be a major part of your support system going forward. They can become your friend, your confidant, and the person you can go to during the darkest and hardest moments of your recovery. Of course, your sponsor is there to celebrate the victories as well! Finding a sponsor is highly recommended for anyone in a 12-Step program, because sponsorship yields far better results than going it alone. At Jaywalker Lodge, we are big believers in the 12-Step philosophy. As part of our Solutions program, we require clients to attend 12-Step meetings and work the 12-Steps with a sponsor. To learn how to find the perfect sponsor for you, call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255.