As you’ve probably experienced firsthand, many people who are recently discharged from addiction treatment have questions or concerns between 12-step group meetings. Being able to talk to someone who has dealt with the same challenges can be invaluable in helping a newly sober person prevent a relapse and work toward their goals, but how can you tell whether you’re ready to take on the responsibility of recovery sponsorship?
What Does a Good Sponsor Do?
The concept of sponsorship wasn’t originally part of the 12-step model, but as the program evolved over time, people working through the program started reaching out to others and choosing to be of service as part of accomplishing the 12th step.
While people pursuing addiction recovery don’t require a sponsor to succeed, having support can make a significant difference when someone is struggling to maintain their sobriety.
Ideally, the sponsor-sponsee relationship should be mutually beneficial. In choosing to take an AA newcomer under your wing, ensure you’re stable enough in your sobriety that working with them won’t be a stressor that triggers a return to substance abuse. You should also commit to a policy of honesty with anyone you choose to mentor. If you see any behavior that concerns you, speak up as soon as possible.
What Not to Do as a Recovery Sponsor
Deciding to become a sponsor doesn’t mean you are declaring yourself an “expert” in recovery, or that your knowledge and guidance will eventually serve as a replacement for going to AA meetings or working with a therapist. Your goal in sponsoring someone else’s sobriety journey shouldn’t be to make decisions for them or try to control their life. It’s also not helpful to judge your sponsee harshly when they make mistakes or have a bad day. Help them celebrate successes one day at a time.
In working with your sponsee, continue to encourage them to rely on 12-step teachings for ongoing addiction recovery. If your sponsee asks for advice from other AA members or decides to change sponsors, don’t take it as an insult. Trust that they know what’s best for them.
Are You a Good Candidate to Mentor Someone Else’s Recovery?
In general, the most successful AA sponsors are those who have been in AA long enough to have worked through all 12 steps and have honed their understanding and appreciation of the program’s benefits. However, your dedication to recovery isn’t the only factor determining whether you’re ready to become a sponsor. You should also have the patience, willingness and time to devote your energy to supporting another person’s sobriety journey.
If you think you might be ready to take on the responsibility of sponsorship, ask your sponsor to evaluate your progress. Their guidance will be beneficial in helping you make this decision. If your sponsor advises you to start helping others, you can feel more confident about moving in that direction.
Making Sober Living Part of Your Aftercare Plan
If your goal is to achieve lifelong freedom from substance use, you may benefit from the additional structure and accountability found in a sober living facility. At Segue Recovery Support, we require our residents to participate in 12-step meetings and perform community service as they gradually earn privileges. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of sober living.