Restorations Therapy Blog

Finding the Right Sponsor When Entering a 12-Step Program

by on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Male College Student Meeting With Campus Counselor Discussing Mental Health Issues

A critical aspect of having a successful recovery is finding the right sponsor. Whether you’re new to a 12-step program or you’ve been in one for a while but need to find a different sponsor, it’s important to consider everything when asking someone to be your sponsor.

Of course, it’s not necessary to have a sponsor, and some people have navigated their recovery just fine without one. That being said, there are many good reasons to have a sponsor, especially if you’re new to a 12-step program or addiction therapy of any kind. 

How Can a Sponsor Help?

A sponsor is usually someone who has been in recovery for some time, but no matter how long they’ve been in recovery, they have the advantage of being in a position to understand what you’ve been and are going through. That can help immeasurably, especially in your early days of recovery. They are usually available 24/7 to not only offer friendship but also advice and support when you need it the most and when you are feeling most vulnerable or lost. 

If you’re in a 12-step program, they can explain the various steps to you and why they are each important. They can also explain that, though you may work on the steps one at a time, one step cannot be separated from the others. A sponsor helps provide you with guidance and support at every stage of your recovery. Some of that may come from sharing their own experiences with you, something that will undoubtedly prove invaluable for you.

A sponsor doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who is in recovery, though. With that in mind, in order to truly understand what you’re going through at every stage of your recovery, it can be most helpful if they’ve experienced those things themselves at one time or another. Someone not in recovery may not be able to relate to all situations and feelings you’re going to experience in your recovery. 

Where’s the Best Place to Find a Sponsor?

One of the best places to find a sponsor is at the 12-step meetings you attend. Remember that you may not want to pick the first person you meet or whose story you hear. Attend a few, maybe several, meetings before deciding to ask someone. 

There’s also the possibility that, after hearing your own story, someone may approach you and  ask if you have a sponsor offering their “services.” You needn’t feel obligated to accept them as your sponsor. You can simply thank them and say you’re still in the decision-making stage. 

Advice and Cautionary Tales When Choosing a Sponsor

There aren’t any rules for choosing a sponsor, but there are some dos and don’ts you may want to follow. For instance:

  • Try not to pick someone you are attracted to or could become romantically involved with. Such a scenario would be a conflict of interest for the sponsor, and the lines between romantic partner and sponsor would get blurred. That could easily cause a setback for you, them, or both of you.
  • Ideally, you should choose someone who has been in recovery for at least a year and someone with whom you can relate. 
  • It should also be someone who believes in and regularly practices the Twelve Steps.
  • It’s not a requirement that they have a sponsor of their own, but it can be a benefit because they’ll have first-hand knowledge of what’s expected of them and the kinds of questions or challenges that may be presented to them.
  • Being a sponsor can be time-consuming, especially in the early days of your sobriety or recovery program. Make sure not to ask someone who seems pressed for time or who is also sponsoring several other people.
  • It’s important that the person you ask to sponsor you is honest and not afraid to tell you the truth, even if it is difficult or hurts. That said, a sponsor isn’t someone to be afraid of.   
  • If you’re not sure who to ask, talk to others at your meetings that have attended them for a while and ask them for suggestions.
  • If the first sponsor you get isn’t working out for you, don’t be afraid, to be honest with them and tell them how you feel. If things still don’t get better, you should not feel guilty about finding a different sponsor.

If you keep these things in mind, you should be able to find yourself a sponsor that can help you navigate the often turbulent waters of recovery.

Finding the right sponsor can be one of the most important aspects of your recovery journey during your 12-Step meetings. Having a supportive sponsor also can help make the difference between your recovery being successful or difficult. Taking the time to carefully choose someone carefully is crucial to your success. Even after finding a sponsor and attending meetings on a regular basis, you should know that those things can’t take the place of professional counseling. So, if you feel you need something to complement your meetings or you believe you would benefit from professional therapy, do not be afraid to find a credentialed therapist to talk to. At Restorations Therapy, we have professional, licensed counselors who provide therapy designed specifically for you and your needs. Call us today at (720) 446-6585 to see how we can help you in every aspect of your treatment and into the recovery process afterward. 

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