One of the most important issues for those early in recovery will be the need for a sponsor. While some new alumni will secure a sponsor within the alumni community right way, others may not.
In many cases the only place they may feel comfortable asking questions regarding this matter will be at alumni meetings and in speaking with members of the Alumni Program. In essence of this, we have put together both a question and answer sheet regarding sponsorship, as well as a do(s) and do not(s) list for obtaining a sponsor, that you are encouraged to print out for personal use.
Sponsorship Questions and Answers
How can I get a sponsor? To get a sponsor, all you have to do is ask. You can do this at a meeting, when a speaker comes in from an outside meeting or at an Alumni Meeting.
What if I ask and they say NO? If this happens it can be for a number of reasons. They may be sponsoring a lot of people already. They may have a schedule that would not allow them to be there for you the way you need them. They may not be at a place in their own recovery that they feel comfortable sponsoring, etc. If someone says no, then consider that it is your Higher Power pointing you in a different direction and continue seeking and ask the next person you find that has what you want.
Is there a difference between a temporary sponsor and a sponsor? A temporary sponsor is someone who knows from the start that you need a sponsor for right now, but that it may change at any time. With a temporary sponsor you do not have to feel pressured to stay with them and they know that this may be a temporary situation. On the other hand, a sponsor is the person that you have decided to stay with until and unless something changes in your recovery.
What is the purpose or duty of a sponsor? The point of a sponsor is simply that anyone, other than you, is going to be an improvement in your recovery. Our thinking and reasoning was not so good in regards to drug and alcohol use. That is why we ended up in a treatment center and in a program of recovery. A sponsor is not your parent or your boss. Your sponsor is someone who has been where you’ve been and has come out the other end as a recovered productive member of society. They should simply have what you need and want.
When should I get a sponsor? Right now! You should not wait. Getting a temporary sponsor while in treatment is the best thing that you can do. It gives you someone to follow direction from, to talk to, and to listen to. Most importantly it enables you to begin the healthy habits of calling, talking and listening. If these habits are developed in treatment, you will be far more likely to continue them when you leave.
How long do I have to have a sponsor? There is nothing definite on this issue. It is a safe to say that as long as you are breathing, you will have this disease. As long as you have it, you will need to be following direction and taking suggestions from someone who has what you want. As long as you want to be in recovery and continue to seek spiritual growth, you need to have a sponsor.
What do I do when I go home about finding a sponsor? Hopefully you will have a temporary sponsor here in FL and you will take their number and email with you when you go home. Keep daily contact with them. Then, go to your meetings every day and get a new sponsor as soon as possible.
How long should a sponsor be in recovery? It is advisable that a sponsor have a minimum of 1 year of recovery. That doesn’t just mean clean for that long, but actually doing the work. Obviously, the longer a person has been practicing their recovery the better
Why does my sponsor’s clean time matter? Clean time matters because the longer a person has been in recovery, the more experience they have and the more resources they have available to help you. Look at it like this, if you started a new job, would you want the less experienced guy to train you? You would probably want the older person who has experience and knows everything you will need to know.
How come I cannot have someone of the opposite sex sponsor me? The most obvious answer is that sexual attraction is a human instinct. Another reason is that no matter how much a woman may empathize with a man, she will never know what it is like to be a man and likewise. Our recovery is a life and death battle. Therefore, we need to know that the person we are dealing with knows where we are coming from and can give their personal experience as they have dealt with it in their own recovery.
What if my sponsor is not working the steps with me or never returns my calls? Get another sponsor, immediately. A sponsor’s job is to take you through the steps while providing support and direction.
What if my sponsor breaks a confidence and I hear something that I told him or her? Get another sponsor, immediately. There is no excuse for this. This is about saving your life, and it is imperative that you be able to trust the confidence of your sponsor.
What if my sponsor does not return my phone calls? Get another sponsor, immediately.
How do I learn more about Sponsorship? Get a Sponsorship pamphlet at the AA meeting and read “Working With Others” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sponsorship Do Not(s) and Do(s)
Things I DO NOT need to be looking for:
1) I do not need to look for someone who has what I look for or the characteristics of my best friend.
2) I do not necessarily have to find someone who had the same drug of choice as me.
3) I do not need to look for someone I am attracted to or to date.
4) I do not need to look for someone who is currently going through or struggling with the same issues that I am.
5) I do not need to look for someone who is at the same stage of recovery that I am.
6) I do not need to look for someone who is going to fix, baby, or control me.
7) I do not need to look for someone that will tell me what I want to hear.
8) I do not need to look for someone that will loan me money, rides or a job.
9) I do not need to look for someone that will allow me to do nothing and still call them my sponsor.
10) I do not need to look for someone that can not keep a confidence and will repeat things that I say to them.
11) I do not need to look for someone that does not return my calls.
12) I do not need to look for someone who is not working the steps with me or taking time to meet with me.
13) I do not need to look at someone that is going to be shaming me or judging me in any way.
14) I do not need to look at someone who does not make time for me, or leaves me hanging when they are away.
15) I do not need to look at someone who is trying to use me as their sponsor, or finds their support through me.
Things I DO need to be looking for:
1) I do need to look for someone who will care about my recovery more than my feelings.
2) I do need to look for someone who I can relate to their experience with the disease, even if they used a different substance than me.
3) I do need to look for a sponsor of the same sex as myself.
4) I do need to look for someone that has been through my struggles and come out the other side with experience and solutions to share with me.
5) I do need to look for someone with some good time in recovery, no less than 1 year and not just abstinent, but practicing what they preach.
6) I do need to look for someone that can set boundaries with me (i.e. knows the difference between being my sponsor and trying to play “junior therapist,” banker, or relationship advisor).
7) I do need to look for someone that will tell me the truth about myself and the recovery process.
8) I do need to look for someone that knows how to say no to me with regards to giving me things I can get on my own.
9) I do need to look for someone that will not put up with me not doing anything (i.e. if I can not follow directions, then they will not sponsor me).
10) I do need to look for someone who will keep my confidence.
11) I do need to look for someone that will return my calls.
12) I do need to look for someone that will work the steps with me and take time to meet with me.
13) I do need to look for someone that will not shame me or judge me.
14) I do need to look for someone that is available to me or makes provision for me to have someone in their absence.
15) I do need to look for someone that has and utilizes a sponsor themselves.
© Rebecca Balko