If you’re attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or 12-step meetings, then you might already be familiar with a sponsor. Every member of AA (and other 12-step communities) can work with a sponsor who can gently facilitate the road to recovery. Essentially, a sponsor takes on the responsibility of guiding a new AA member along the journey of long-term sobriety.
A sponsor is like having a mentor. It’s no different than having a mentor in your career or in school or to reach your health goals. Research has shown that mentors can dramatically affect one’s life by helping them reach their goals. There’s no question that sponsors can be a person to rely upon through challenging times and a companion on the journey of recovery. Sponsors can significantly boost a person’s confidence and their ability to create life change, including sustaining their sobriety. In fact, one of the reasons why having a sponsor is so beneficial because of the sponsor-sponsee relationship. In fact, when the sponsor-sponsee relationship is strong, it can be the foundation upon which a newly sober individual can find hope, support, and faith in the 12-step process.
However, not all sponsor-sponsee relationships are strong. There are certain steps that a recovering addict can take to help build a strong relationship with their sponsor and get the most out of the experience. Here are a few suggestions to do that:
Show up on time. When you arrive on time, you show your sponsor that you care. You show your respect to your sponsor, but also to your own recovery. You send the message that you want to get the most out of your experience. Whether you’re meeting by phone, Skype, or in person, arrive ready and prepared.
Arrive with questions. Time with your sponsor is your time to understand the healing process. If you’re struggling with cravings, wondering about certain thoughts, or even questioning your ability to continue, bring it all to the table. Your time with your sponsor is the time to discuss everything and anything.
Be honest. Honesty in relationships helps to build trust and connection. As mentioned above, it is the relationship with your sponsor that can make a significant difference in your life. Having a close relationship with him or her can help you feel supported, less lonely, and confident in your ability to stay sober.
Leave romance out of it. One of the biggest mistakes that a sponsor and sponsee make is turning their AA relationship into an intimate one. If you have a close relationship, use it to heal and grow. The closeness isn’t an indication to go out on a date. As already mentioned, it’s that closeness that can help a sponsee feel confident and secure in their sobriety. Furthermore, when the sponsor-sponsee relationship turns intimate it starts out on an unbalanced playing field. The sponsor has more sobriety, more experience as a recovering addict, and perhaps more knowledge about how to recover. This can put a sponsee in an uncomfortable position if he or she were romantically involved with a sponsor.
These are a few suggestions for making the most of having a sponsor. Having someone in your life who has already walked the treacherous path you’re about to walk can be incredibly supportive. The above tips are meant to help you get the most of that support.
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