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What to Look for When Choosing a Sponsor in Recovery

two young men holding books and talking - choosing a sponsor

When you are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction and attending 12-Step meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcohol Anonymous (AA) as part of your sobriety, you know the importance of choosing a sponsor. But how do you decide who would make the best sponsor for you?

What Is the Role of a Sponsor?

When a person with a substance use disorder makes the decision to stop using alcohol or drugs, having a support structure greatly increases their chance of being successful. Although 12-Step programs do not require members to have a sponsor, statistics show that those with sponsors have a higher rate of success.

Sponsors will help you “work the steps” of a 12-Step program. They listen to your concerns, offer encouragement, and talk you through your moments of weakness. A sponsor is a mentor, confidante, friend, and role model while providing the support you need to achieve lasting sobriety.

What to Look for When Choosing a Sponsor

When you are ready to find a sponsor, let others at your meeting know that you are looking for one. If you need help, ask the chairperson. They may already have someone in mind who would be a good fit for you. Talk to several people before making your final choice. Ask potential sponsors three questions:

  1. Do you have a sponsor?
  2. Have you worked the 12 steps?
  3. Does your sponsor allow you to sponsor?

Some 12-Step groups recommend that a person have at least one year of sobriety before sponsoring someone else. Other groups recommend years of sobriety. The most important consideration, along these lines, is that sponsors have completed all of the 12 steps.

Here are six important factors to consider when choosing a sponsor.

  1. They are happy with their sobriety: Look for a sponsor who is happy in their sobriety and committed to continuing a clean and sober life. Your sponsor is there to help you through your recovery; to do this they must be strong enough in their own sobriety to handle your moods and weaknesses. If a person seems generally angry, depressed, or anxious, they will probably not be a good sponsor.
  2. They have a positive attitude: Naturally, if someone has a negative attitude towards sobriety, they are not a good choice for sponsorship. A sponsor should have a positive mindset regarding recovery. They should encourage you to take part in activities that strengthen your sobriety.
  3. They have enough time: You already know that your sobriety requires around-the-clock maintenance. Find a sponsor who has enough time to talk with you regularly and who will return your messages quickly. They may already have one or more sponsees, so be certain they can give you the time you need.
  4. You do not fear contacting them: You should never be afraid to call your sponsor because you fear they will judge you. If you get that feeling, your sponsor might not be right for you. If your sponsor ever makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, it is alright to make a change.
  5. They are a good listener: A sponsor needs to be there for you in an emergency, answer questions about sobriety, help you through your troubles, and provide insight and tips to help you understand and cope with triggers.
  6. There is no sexual attraction: If you or the person you are considering as a sponsor feels any sexual attraction or chemistry, you should not have them as your sponsor. Those feelings can cause a lot of unnecessary and unwanted complications. A sponsor needs to be impartial and objective. They have to be someone you can trust completely. Choose someone to whom you are not sexually attracted and who is unlikely to be sexually attracted to you.

Are You Struggling with Addiction?

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is help available. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona, trained professionals will help you learn how to live a clean and sober life. Call today and start your journey to recovery.

Researching Scottsdale residential treatment programs? Learn more about programs offered at Canyon Vista Recovery Center.
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