Picking a Good AA Sponsor

in Addiction
Published Jul 9, 2021
aa sponsor

After going through detox for a substance use disorder, it is prudent to seek continued treatment to ensure that every step is taken to avoid relapse. For many people, this involves going to support group meetings alongside other people who have been in their shoes before and are continuing to fight to maintain their recovery. Common examples of these groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Part of the process of 12-Step groups is picking an AA sponsor to guide an individual along the recovery journey. It can be challenging to know who the right person is to choose for this role, but there are some specific qualities to look for. 

The Importance of an AA Sponsor

When someone first starts attending a support group meeting like AA or NA, they will likely be a little nervous and not know what to expect. The sponsor is there to help them understand the process, answer any questions they might have, and encourage them along the journey. Most importantly, a sponsor walks someone through the 12-Steps. A sponsor is someone who has been in their situation before and can provide advice from a place of complete care and no judgment. They provide sympathy and compassion to the newcomer. They can also help introduce them to other members of the group. 

As much as it is a sponsor’s duty to be compassionate, they are also there to hold the newcomer accountable. When individuals are at their lowest point or feel the temptation to engage in substance use, their sponsor is the person to call. While a sponsor can’t force an individual to stay on the path to recovery, they can encourage them along the way. 

Someone In Your Group of Opposite Gender

A person will most often choose a sponsor that is within their own support group. This is because they will understand the process and help them better integrate into the community.  AA and other similar groups often recommend choosing a sponsor that is of the same gender. This can make things more comfortable for the individual and ensure that they avoid a sponsor becoming attracted to their sponsee, which may interfere with their ability to fulfill their role as sponsors. 

Someone Who Has Significant Time Sober

It is essential to choose a sponsor that has been successfully sober over a long period, for example, more than five years. Someone who just got sober should not sponsor another newly sober person. This is because they are still new to sobriety and won’t be able to offer the same insights that someone who has been sober for years would. 

Someone Who Can Take on a Sponsee

Another critical aspect to look for in a sponsor is someone who wants and is capable of taking on a sponsee. While a person may be successfully sober for a long time, they might not have the desire or the ability to be a sponsor. This may be because they can’t commit to the time and effort it takes or because they already have sponsees they are committed to. Someone who already has many sponsees might not be able to devote as much time to each one of them as needed. 

Someone You Look Up To

A sponsor is someone who the person who just started recovery wants to be like. They are someone who overcame addiction, fought to maintain their sobriety, and are living a healthy and happy life without substance use. They should also be someone that the individual is comfortable being around and being completely open with. They should never feel afraid or embarrassed to give them a call at a time of need. 

What to Do When an AA Sponsor Isn’t Working Out

Sometimes, for various reasons, an AA sponsor might turn out not to be quite the right fit for a recovering individual. Maybe personal obligations in their life got in the way, and they simply no longer had the time to commit. Or perhaps their personality just didn’t mesh well with the recovering individual. There is also a chance that they are simply not offering the recovering individual the support they need, aren’t responding to their calls, or aren’t setting the positive example that the individual needs during the early stages of recovery. If a sponsor isn’t working out, it is essential to move on. The individual can have a conversation with their sponsor to let them know that the sponsor-sponsee relationship is not working. From there, they can find a new sponsor.  

Having a good, reliable AA sponsor is an integral part of the recovery journey. A sponsor can provide powerful insight and advice from the perspective of having been through the same situation and having fought the same battle. They should listen more than they talk and provide the support that an individual needs when they feel tempted to turn back to substance use. A good AA sponsor is someone who has been sober for an extended amount of time and is living a healthy life without drugs or alcohol. When choosing a sponsor, you should choose someone you are comfortable with and can be completely open and honest with. If the sponsor you initially chose isn’t offering you the support you feel you need, it is crucial to let your sponsor know that the sponsor-sponsee relationship is not working out. From there, you can find a new sponsor. Our team at Gallus Medical Detox Centers is here to help if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. Call (866) 296-5242 to learn more.