Recovery isn’t just about abstinence. Of course, abstinence is a piece of the puzzle, but there are a number of other pieces that are equally importance. Whether you got sober in rehab or joined a twelve-step program, social support can be hugely influential in the success and longevity of a person’s sobriety. In fact, this is why people in twelve-step programs are encouraged to find a sponsor, but you don’t necessarily have to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous or one of the other recovery fellowships to find a sponsor. After starting your program, whatever kind of program that may be, consider these tips for choosing the right sponsor so you can be sure to choose someone who can really be an asset to your recovery.
DON’T… choose a sponsor based on popularity.
In most support groups, you’ll notice a few individuals who seem to be popular choices for sponsors. They’ll have numerous group members talking to them before and after meetings, sometimes even having a swarm of people around them. Although this is likely a sign that they’re good sponsors, the problem is that having a lot of sponsees inevitably limits what a sponsor can offer each person. It may be tempting to choose someone for whom so many people vouch, but your sponsor-sponsee relationship will be much more beneficial to you if you’re not competing with other sponsees for attention.
DON’T… choose someone you find attractive.
Arguably one of the most important don’ts for choosing a sponsor, you never ever want to choose someone you find sexually attractive. We’ve heard stories of sponsors and sponsees becoming romantically involved and living happily ever after, but remember that these stories are the exception and not the rule. Becoming romantically linked with a sponsor is a huge risk and, more often than not, ends in disaster. This is why women are usually encouraged to find female sponsors and vice versa for men with homosexuals obviously encouraged to choose opposite-sex sponsors.
DON’T… be afraid to take a “test drive”.
Choosing a sponsor is a big step in your recovery journey. Your sponsor is someone who will help you through the twists and turns of recovery, support you through difficult times, encourage you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and generally provides a buffer as your continue on your recovery. Since choosing the right sponsor is so important, you shouldn’t be afraid to recruit a potential sponsor for a trial run. In fact, don’t hesitate to tell your potential sponsor that you’d like to get to know him or her a bit to see how things go before committing; he or she won’t take offense because all sponsors have been (and likely still are) sponsees and have gone through this same search process themselves.
DO… choose someone with demonstrated knowledge of the Big Book.
Just like memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school, virtually anyone can memorize and recite each of the Twelve Steps. It doesn’t even take that long to learn them. But don’t confuse memorizing the Twelve Steps with actually knowing them as there’s a major distinction. When choosing a sponsor, you want someone who knows the Big Book front to back, inside and out. He or she should know all the subtexts behind each of the steps and know how to help you apply them to your life and recovery journey. Typically, you’ll discover how well someone knows the twelve-step method during your trial run, making that trial run all the more important.
DO… choose one of the group’s longer-term members.
The last sponsor you want to choose is someone who’s just joined and starting your program. Even if the person was part of a previous group or program, you want someone who has grown roots and is firmly established. For one thing, long-term members are typically involved in the larger recovery community, so they can help you to navigate the process of acclimating to being sober in the community. You can count on them to have knowledge and experience extending beyond the twelve-step program and offer practical, real-world advice. For instance, they can introduce you to more people and suggest sober-friendly hangouts.
DO… choose someone with an straightforward, honest demeanor.
Your sponsor will becoming increasingly important to you as you get further along in your recovery journey. Initially, he or she will likely serve a similar function as a study buddy, helping you learn each of the Twelve Steps and how to apply them to your life. But with the passage of time, you’ll come to rely on your sponsor to help you safeguard your sobriety, which is a critical role. For this reason, you should choose someone you know will be straightforward with you, able to tell you things you need to hear, even when they may not be things you want to hear. Honesty is another important quality; you should be able to count on your sponsor to tell you when you’re putting your sobriety in danger and help to set you back on the right path.
Luke Pool is a grateful member of the Recovery community. He has found his purpose in life by helping those who suffer from the diseases of addiction. He uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about this epidemic, affecting every part of this country. Now working for Stodzy internet marketing, he is able to pursue his passion by informing as many people as possible about addiction. Originally from Austin, Texas he now lives in South Florida