What is the role of a sponsor in a recovery program?

Recovery sponsors are advocates for sobriety. They hold people accountable and help guide them through the next steps of life, whether it’s getting a job, attending therapy or reconnecting with loved ones. AA or NA sponsors have completed a 12-step program and have been in recovery for at least one year. They use their first-hand experience with addiction to help others navigate the many challenges they’ll experience on the road to recovery. The first year of sobriety is often the most difficult, and a sponsor serves as a confidant to walk you through it.

What does an addiction sponsor do?

Addiction sponsors were first introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but they’ve become a valuable asset in many recovery programs. They are familiar with the 12-step philosophy and have implemented it into their own life. Unlike a counselor, sponsors do not offer any formal therapy. Their job is to be a supportive friend, someone you can confide in and discuss feelings and thoughts you may not always feel comfortable revealing in group therapy or at a meeting. There are no requirements to be a sponsor. It doesn’t matter what someone’s education is or where they come from.

The beauty of sponsorship is that it unites people from every walk of life who have struggled with addiction. They have stood in the shoes of the person they’re sponsoring. Being a sponsor is a volunteer role, but it consumes as much time and energy as a full-time job. Sponsors often find the process of sponsoring as beneficial to their recovery as their sponsee. They offer support, guidance and advice to someone in the early stages of recovery. A sponsor does not offer any type of counseling, and they should not be used as a substitute for therapy. Instead, you should consider a sponsor part of your social support system.

Sponsor Responsibilities

Your recovery is always 100-percent in your hands. Some people who do not have much support often blame relapse on others, but you always have a choice. A sponsor is there to help remind you of that. The greatest responsibility of a sponsor is to make sure you always know there is an alternative to drugs or alcohol. No matter how bad things get, you can get help and choose differently. But sponsors also accept relapse as a part of recovery. They know it happens, and they may have relapsed themselves at some point in the past. Rather than shaming you, a sponsor will be someone you can go to for support. They help you get back on track and figure out what to do to prevent further relapse. Sponsors remind you how far you’ve come and what you have to look forward to. They are living proof you can get through this. They also help connect you to the recovery community. Going to meetings might be intimidating at first; having a sponsor by your side can make the process much easier. You might even find yourself opening up more and getting to know other attendees.

Things to Avoid With a Sponsor

In the early stages of recovery, many people latch onto their sponsors. They can become overly attached to their support and rely on them to get them through detox, withdrawal and recovery. However, there has to be a distinction between your sobriety and your sponsor’s help. Although a sponsor can help you work through things you might not be able to handle alone, they are not your savior. You are.

They also should not impose any type of lifestyle choices or religious philosophies on you. Their role is to help guide you toward the best version of your recovery. You should also not get too critical of your sponsor. Some are tougher than others, which is why choosing someone you truly connect with is important. Recovery is so emotionally charged that you might start to take any of their criticisms to heart; know that their ultimate goal is to help you stay sober, which often requires some hard truths and heavy doses of reality.

Get the Help You Need Today

Whether you want to find an addiction sponsor or start your path toward recovery, we can help. From detox to outpatient rehab, our substance use disorder specialists are here to help you find the perfect place to start your journey. Contact us at any time, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, by dialing 833-820-2922.