Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous both recommend finding a sponsor to guide you through the recovery process. The reality is no one understands the journey to sobriety like someone who has been through it. Studies confirm the value revealing that having a sponsor in recovery reduces the chances of relapse and reduces the chances of abandoning the recovery process. Technically speaking a sponsor is another person in recovery further along in the process than you. They act as a coach and mentor by sharing their experiences and being a confidante you can call if you feel the urge to use again and need somebody to talk to.
Finding the right sponsor is important. Here are some tips to help you find the best match.
Attend 12-Step Meetings
The more meetings you attend, the more likely you are to find a sponsor that will gel with you. When you’re at the meetings try your best not to be overly guarded and shy. Let people know you’re looking for a sponsor. If you meet someone who you think could be a good match, ask them. The chairperson leading the meeting can also assist you and let others know that you’re looking for a sponsor, or make recommendations. They might even have a list of available sponsors.
Experience is Important
Your sponsor should be actively involved with the 12-step program and have at least one year of sobriety, and the more the better. An experienced sponsor will have worked through all 12 steps and be familiar with the literature. They will understand their role as a sponsor and lead by example.
Find Someone You Trust
Because you will be sharing secrets, fears, and insecurities, it’s crucial that you trust your sponsor. Your sponsor should respect and maintain your confidentiality and you will theirs. In the early stages of recovery, you’ll likely feel vulnerable, so it’s critical that you feel like you can speak freely without fear of judgment or betrayal. A good way to get a sense of this is by watching how your potential sponsor interacts with others.
Make Sure They Have Time
If you find the perfect sponsor, but they’re too busy to give you the attention you need, then it doesn’t much matter how great they are. Frequent and regular contact is essential when building a bond with your sponsor. If you’re new to recovery, it’s better to have a sponsor who is more available and has the time for questions and support on a more frequent basis. Make sure to discuss your expectations up front to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Ultimately it will be a process to discover what time of sponsor and approach works best for you. Some sponsors will be more structured and offer reading assignments and frequent check-ins, while others might be more casual and act more as a sympathetic friend rather than mentor figure. Whichever direction you go the value of a good sponsor is worth the energy and time it sometimes takes to find one.