Not everyone needs a sponsor, but most people could use all the help they can get. If you’re new to a 12 Step program, or just thinking about starting, here are some suggestions for choosing a sponsor.
There’s no hurry. A sponsor is supposed to be a mentor, someone you feel you can learn from. It’s hard to get a sense of who might be a good influence on you after only a few meetings. You will probably want to find a meeting you like, then get to know some people before you start narrowing down your options. This might take several months, but it’s better to make a smart choice in the beginning.
Avoid romantic entanglements. The last thing you want is to end up in a relationship with your sponsor. One-sided interest is just as bad. Avoid this problem entirely by choosing someone of whatever sex you aren’t attracted to.
Find someone whose recovery you want to emulate. That doesn’t mean you need to find someone you want to be like in every way, only in recovery. Since your sponsor is your recovery mentor, you want to be sure she will lead you where you want to go. Look for someone who is happy to be sober and generally positive. If she doesn’t make sobriety seem appealing to you, keep looking.
Make sure she has at least a year in recovery. The average sponsor has closer to 10 years sober. At that point, relapse is rare and she will have experienced most of the ups and downs of recovery. The more experience she has, the more she will be able to help you. Having a sponsor relapse is a difficult experience and finding someone with a long time sober and who has a sponsor of her own will hedge against that danger.
Don’t be afraid to change sponsors if you have to. Sometimes people just don’t get along. You should expect your sponsor to be honest with you, even if the truth is sometimes unpleasant, but if you feel like she is being unnecessarily critical, that you can’t communicate effectively, or you just can’t get along, it might be better to try someone else.
Find someone who listens. It’s hard to feel supported by someone who just lectures you all the time. Even if they’re making sense, we want to know they hear what we are saying. When your sponsor listens and tries to understand, she will be able to help you better and you will feel better about the relationship.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.
Last updated & clinically assessed 30 March, 2022