The word “sponsor” means different things to different people. It can mean “one who supplies cash to another” or, in government, it can point to “a primary supporter of the legislation.” When the word is considered in the context of 12-Step recovery, however, it takes on an altogether different meaning. A sponsor in 12-Step recovery is an experienced member of a 12-Step fellowship who helps a newer member to understand and work the twelve steps of recovery. The person whom the sponsor helps is usually referred to as “the sponsee.”
When You Should Get a Sponsor: The Sooner the Better
Whatever our circumstances were when we first got clean and sober, each of us began our recovery journey by regularly attending 12-Step meetings. As we did, we quickly learned that we were going to need someone to act as a guide and mentor—a more experienced member of the recovery fellowship whose primary purpose was to help us successfully complete our step work. It was suggested that we choose a sponsor quickly, since the sooner we began our step work, the sooner we would get relief from the deadly disease of alcoholism and addiction.
How a Sponsor Will Help You
Although a sponsor can be a great many things to a sponsee, the most important of these is to be a guide for helping the sponsee with step work. A sponsor is someone who has successfully worked the steps and is continuously applying them in his/her life. The word “sponsor” cannot be found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, but the 12th Step asks everyone who has recovered to help those who have not—to essentially become sponsors.
Sponsors can also act as a recovery resource. All 12-Step recovery programs consist of a fellowship (or group of likeminded individuals) who work together to sustain a common purpose: to help those still suffering to recover. Your sponsor can answer questions about the fellowship you join and guide you in meeting etiquette by helping you to understand how to be an effective meeting participant.
Misunderstanding the Role of a Sponsor
When we are newly sober, our lives are often peppered with a vast array of problems. We may be completely broke and feel as if we desperately need money. We may have strained or even destroyed many of our most meaningful relationships. We might have broken laws and may now be experiencing legal difficulties. Many of these burning problems will eventually become resolved as we complete our step work.
What our sponsors can’t do is solve these problems for us. We should never ask our sponsors to loan us money or to fix any sort of problem we have caused while active in our disease of addiction. If we make this mistake, we risk cheating ourselves out of the vital experience of repairing and improving our own lives through our own step work.
Things to Look for in a Sponsor
Although a good sponsor may possess many appealing qualities, these four may be the most important. A good sponsor
- has successfully worked the steps.
- is actively working the steps.
- is being sponsored by someone who also has a sponsor.
- is regularly attending meetings.
How to be a Successful Sponsee
While sponsors have the job of helping their sponsees with step work, this relationship works in both directions. As sponsees, we bear the responsibility of doing the 12-Step work that our sponsors suggested. We must be committed to our own recovery and must express that commitment by making our strongest effort at completing step work fully and on time—that is when we and our sponsors have agreed it will be finished.
When we first got sober, one of the things many of us had to do was learn to become accountable. In active addiction, we were only accountable to our disease and how best to feed it. As newly recovered people, we must become accountable to our sobriety and the crucial 12-Step work at its center. We do this by taking our sponsors’ suggestions very seriously.
If we do so, our rewards are immense. A life free from active addiction is something many of us believed was impossible. We now know this belief to be false. Those of us who have recovered from this seemingly hopeless state of mind and body now know that recovery is in everyone’s reach—even those who may not now know it.
Recovery from the disease of alcoholism/addiction is something possible for each and every one of us. If you or someone you know continues to suffer from addiction in West Palm Beach, please call the Summer House Detox Center at today at 1-800-719-1090 . Professionals there are standing by to answer any questions you have about how you or a loved one can be helped to step onto the path of recovery. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.