Being a Sponsor

If we agree to be someone’s Sponsor it doesn’t mean we take responsibility for that person or for their sobriety and recovery. It is a two-way relationship based upon mutual respect and the principles of the program.

Who can be a Sponsor?

Any member of the MA program or another 12-Step program who is recovering from a substance dependency can be a Sponsor.

When should I consider myself ready to sponsor another?

Whenever you feel ready to share what you have. Usually, it helps to have enough sobriety so that you have worked the Steps and have some “experience, strength, and hope” to share. If you possess a willingness to spend time and effort with another addict, to be patient, and to share your experience with recovery, then you are probably ready to become a Sponsor.

How do I become a Sponsor?

Usually, one waits to be asked or simply announces one’s availability for such a commitment at a meeting. Placing an asterisk* in front of your Zoom display name is another common way to identify in online meetings that you are available for sponsorship. 

Frequently Asked Questions
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Must I Sponsor someone if asked?

No. There are no such obligations in 12-Step programs. If you are not comfortable in sponsoring someone, it is important to politely decline and to encourage them to ask others. However, most members do sponsor if they are able to, because of the many benefits Sponsorship provides.

What is the proper approach to Sponsorship?

There is no “proper” approach. Each Sponsor is free to work the way their experience dictates. Some Sponsors are direct and others are more casual. Some outline the program as they see it, while others allow the newcomer to find their own way, guiding only when asked. Many use their experience with their own Sponsors as a starting point on which to build. Each Sponsor will be different and some approaches will fail. A Sponsor is not responsible for anyone’s sobriety but their own.

How does Sponsorship help the Sponsor?

The communication and mutual sharing that occurs helps both the Sponsor and the sponsee. The Sponsor’s own understanding of the program will be deepened. It is not unusual for the Sponsor to be focused back to the basic principles of the program and to working the Steps and communicating with their own Sponsor.

How many people can a Sponsor work with?

Only you can answer this question. Different people have different amounts of time and energy to apply to the program. However, caution needs to be exercised to avoid becoming overcommitted. Because Sponsorship is a special relationship between two recovering people, there is a limit to the number of people with which this type of relationship can be maintained. Excessive Sponsorship can sometimes lead to grandiosity, restrict your ability to work your own program, and threaten your serenity.

What do I do if a person I Sponsor doesn’t want help?

Not much. Offer your willingness to help when it is desired. It is futile to force unwanted advice and help onto another. Sometimes a Sponsor experiences the anger of the sponsee. If they stay close to the program and their own Sponsor, they can usually deal with this anger without damage to themselves or the relationship.

How can I stop sponsoring someone?

Simply by taking the responsibility of stating that you no longer can Sponsor that person. It is important to say why and to offer to be in contact if possible. If it is an issue affecting the Sponsor’s program and serenity, they should seek the counsel of other program members and of their own Sponsor before dealing with the newcomer. Many times a Sponsor releases a sponsee to allow that person to move on in recovery with a different Sponsor who is more attuned to what is going on in the sponsee’s life.

Do’s and Don’ts of Sponsorship

Some suggested Do’s of Sponsorship:

  • Present an example of how the program is working in your life.
  • Encourage meeting attendance.
  • Introduce the newcomer to others in the program.
  • Help the newcomer to understand 12-Step literature.
  • Urge the newcomer to take an active role in their own recovery.
  • Share your experience, strength, and hope.

Some suggested Don’ts of Sponsorship:

  • Avoid being judgmental.
  • Avoid imposing your personal views.
  • Refrain from taking another’s inventory.
  • Don’t make decisions for the newcomer.
  • Don’t pretend to know all the answers.

Above all, remember that the key to the program is fellowship. You are being given a treasured opportunity to participate in your own recovery, and in that of another at the same time. Give away freely those things that were given freely to you.