Attributes Of An Effective AA Sponsor

Many 12-step programs are designed to provide an effective support system. Part of this involves being able to provide a newcomer with a good sponsor. An addict or alcoholic who has recently decided to no longer let alcohol or drugs influence their life is in a very delicate state of mind. Being able to talk with someone who understands what they are experiencing is an essential part of recovery.

Sponsorship History

At one time, there were no sponsors or 12-step programs available for those who wanted to quit abusing drugs and alcohol. The only treatment available was spending time in a mental hospital. Eventually, hospitals would make it mandatory for patients to contact a local AA program and have a sponsor before they were permitted to be discharged. These individuals were present when the alcoholic or drug addict was released. They would take the person from the hospital to their first meeting. This is when they started being called a sponsor.


There are certain qualities to look for when choosing a sponsor. Each person and their situation is unique. Certain key factors will create a sober and solid foundation for choosing the right sponsor.

  • The potential sponsor has a sponsor
  • They have worked the 12 step program
  • Encourages those they sponsor to also be a sponsor.

If there are any negative responses to these questions, they may not be the right person. It is important to have some questions written down before speaking with a potential sponsor.


There are two personality factors a person may want to consider when choosing a sponsor.

Ability To Relate – Many people are surprised that it is a good thing if a sponsor can’t relate to them. It’s best to have someone who has gotten past where a person struggling with addiction finds themselves. It’s difficult to help someone progress to a point a potential sponsor has not yet reached.

Enjoying recovery – A positive sponsor will be experiencing enjoyment and laughter in their day-to-day life. They know it’s not always a good day, but they work hard to find some joy in the present. The ability to laugh and smile is essential. Taking the time to see what a potential sponsor is like with their family and at home is important. This provides a good idea of what life is like for them. It is a good way to see if someone will be a good sponsor.

Comfortable Contacting Them

A sponsor is someone a newcomer must feel comfortable with during the entire recovery process. Should someone’s instincts tell them the sponsor isn’t right or they don’t like contacting their sponsor, it is time to get a new one. Most 12-step programs have rules in place to address these situations. It’s important to realize finding a sponsor can be difficult, it could require more than one attempt. Sponsorship is an important relationship. It is an essential part of completing a 12-step-program.


A key trait of an effective sponsor is how they listen more than they talk. They will know their purpose is to encourage a new person’s involvement in the program. It is also important to realize sponsors are not clergy members, therapists or even a boss. They will try to answer questions concerning sobriety. They are not responsible for treating any co-occurring conditions, boss a person around or encourage personal beliefs.


A sponsor needs to have enough time to be supportive of a new person. They know personality disorders, as well as addiction and substance abuse, does not follow a designated schedule. Having a sponsor with enough time to talk about things during the week is essential. These are sponsors who promptly return messages. This requires choosing someone who is not sponsoring too many people at the same time.

Service Involvement

It may be good to choose a sponsor who goes out of their way for others. These are people who are welcoming to newcomers. A good sponsor is often someone involved in volunteer work. These are individuals who are dedicated to helping others and giving back. They usually are the sponsors who can provide a sense of pleasure and peace for someone battling addiction.

Are you ready to take that first step in overcoming your addiction? Call us today at 833-820-2922 and begin the process. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day.