7 Points to Consider When Choosing a Sponsor in Recovery
After attending treatment, the next step in early recovery is to go into an IOP or OP program, and many patients also choose attend 12-step based meetings. A New Start Inc. is a 12-step based therapy program and we strongly suggest for patients to attend local 12-step meetings (AA, NA, CoDA- whichever fits your need). We also recommend that patients find a sponsor immediately upon entering treatment.
The general idea behind the 12-step model is to have recovering addicts provide support to others in the beginning stages of treatment, and it has proven to be an effective form of relapse prevention for many. The main idea of a sponsor is to have someone to contact in any moment of extreme temptation or relapse. A sponsor is not only someone to contact in times of need, but a person who will be able to provide you with enlightenment and wisdom while also giving emotional support in those delicate moments where sobriety may be compromised.
Having a sponsor, is much like any other type of relationship. There is effort that must be done in order to be mutually beneficial to both parties involved. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a sponsor.
1. Solid Recovery Time
Make sure you are choosing someone who is living a successful life in sobriety. You should look for someone with (at least) a year of recovery beneath their belt. Make sure that you choose someone who has not relapsed multiple times themselves. You’ll want someone who is strong in their own recovery so they can be beneficial in holding you to your recovery goals.
2. Get a Sponsor of the Same Sex
No, this is not a 12-step rule, but this is highly suggested. It is already advised in recovery to steer clear of new romantic relationships in the first year of sobriety in order to stay focused on the program. By having a sponsor who you are attracted to (or whom you could possibly become attracted to) could be detrimental to your recovery process. In order to avoid this, we suggest finding a sponsor of the same sex for those who are heterosexual, and for anyone else, we suggest to find someone of the sex you identify and can relate with most.
3. Find a Sponsor at a Meeting You Frequent
If you have a home group, or a certain meeting that is your favorite; you should be seeking a sponsor from there. This already guarantees that you both have similar interests in the meeting setting and it will also help with easy check-ins and meet-ups. In a time of need, you don’t want to have to go out of your way to see someone, or risk not seeing them for periods of time. Having someone at your local meeting would be a convenient solution to these foreseeable issues.
4. They Have Experience
Make sure you choose someone who has already worked the steps, has had a sponsee before, and is active in their recovery. You want someone who also has a sponsor themselves, this way you know they are held accountable to someone with their recovery. Make sure your sponsor knows the step-work and traditions that go with the 12-step model, this is the base for being successful in your journey.
5. You Enjoy Interaction with this Person
The person you ask to be your sponsor should be someone you can see yourself being friends with. Make sure you genuinely enjoy talking and spending time with the person before you ask them to be your sponsor. Working the steps can be intense and emotional, so you want to make sure you are completely comfortable with your sponsor.
6. Take Your Time
There is no need to rush finding a sponsor. It is encouraged to make it one of your first steps in early recovery, but take some time and invest some thought in the search process. Interaction which is forced or rushed will usually not last in the long run, the same applies to choosing a sponsor. Make a list of all the qualities you are seeking in a potential sponsor and go from there. Most support groups should have a list of temporary sponsors, this way you will at least have a temporary sponsor while you search for your perfect long-term match.
7. Don’t Feel Trapped
Like any relationship, make sure this is a mutually beneficial relationship. As you go through recovery, the stages change. At the beginning you may need someone who is inspirational and motivational but as time progresses you may need more of someone who listens or gives you a different type of guidance. If you ever feel that you are not getting what you need out of a sponsor-sponsee relationship, don’t hesitate to change sponsors. Anyone in recovery will be accepting of your decision and understanding, so there is no need to feel guilty if your sponsor does not end up working out for the long run.
If you apply all these ideas, and seek advice from people who have been working the program for a solid amount of time; finding a right sponsor for you should be a simple task. If you ever want to know where you can find local AA meetings, you can visit the official website of Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org, just type in your zip code and you will see a directory for local meetings. For NA meetings, visit: http://www.na.org. To learn more about A New Start, Inc’s Alumni Program or if you know someone who is struggling with early recovery, call us today at: (561) 571-8849.