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All Eudaimonia sober living clients are required to attend recovery meetings while they are enrolled in our sober living program. Although a 12-step fellowship membership is not required and there are many other support group options (SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, etc.) many sober living residents choose to attend 12-step fellowship meetings.
One important tradition in 12-step fellowships is sponsorship. You may have heard discussions about sponsors and have a general idea of what one is, but if you’re new to recovery, you probably have never had to go get one. Before we dive into the details about what to look for in a sponsor and how to find one, it’s important to understand the role and value of a sponsor.
What is an AA Sponsor?
An AA sponsor acts as a mentor to a person who has less experience in addiction recovery.1 This person serves as a friend, a confidant, a role model, and someone who can answer questions and provide advice, wisdom, and one-on-one support when it’s needed most. A sponsor can wear many different hats, but the most important function of the relationship is that it helps you achieve long-term sobriety. Although there are no specific rules about who can sponsor others in AA, it is generally recommended that a sponsor has at least one year of continuous sobriety and is the same gender as you are.
Top Benefits of Having a Sponsor in Recovery
You may be wondering why you even need a sponsor or you may just feel intimidated by the thought of asking someone to sponsor you. However, there are so many beneficial reasons to get a sponsor if you’re recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Here are just a few of the top benefits of sponsorship, according to Alcoholics Anonymous.2
- A sponsor can help you stay sober. Your sponsor can provide helpful advice and wisdom that they’ve gained through their own personal experience in recovery, so you’ll always have someone to turn to when you’re struggling. A sponsor can also be the voice of reason when you’re about to talk yourself into doing something stupid or you’ve started justifying having “just one more drink.”
- A sponsor can help you establish more sober relationships. Your sponsor may be one of your very first friends in sobriety. Although enrolling in a sober living program is also another great way to meet like-minded sober people, so is AA. The more connected you become with your AA fellowship and your sponsor, the more relationships you will build.
- A sponsor can help you learn how to enjoy sobriety. Being sober isn’t always enjoyable early on, but a sponsor is someone who has been in your shoes. He or she understands the challenges associated with early sobriety and knows how to cope. By watching your sponsor live a healthy and positive lifestyle in recovery, you’ll learn what it looks like to enjoy sobriety and what you need to do to get there too.
- A sponsor is a form of free aftercare. Free sobriety support is always great! You don’t have to pay a sponsor to be there for you because sponsoring others and helping them find a new life in recovery is what the 12-step fellowship and sponsorship are all about!
Qualities of a Great AA Sponsor
Before you start your sponsor search, it’s a good idea to know what makes a good one. Although you may already know what you would like from your sponsor, here are a few recommendations and qualities of a great sponsor.
- He/she has at least one year of continuous sobriety. A sponsor should have more sobriety experience than you do. Living sober for twelve continuous months demonstrates dedication and commitment to sobriety, which is also a telltale sign of sober maturity.
- He/she is open to sponsoring someone. Some people may have several months or years sober, but they may not be ready to commit to sponsoring someone just yet. Before you determine who you want to be your sponsor, you’ll want to make sure the person is open to the idea of being one first.
- He/she has the time to commit to a sponsee. Sponsoring a person in recovery is a big time commitment. The person you want to be your sponsor should be available and have the time to commit to building a genuine relationship with you.
- He/she is not someone you are physically attracted to. You should not be attracted to your sponsor, nor he or she to you. The sponsor/sponsee relationship is not intended to be a romantic one. Rather, it should be a supportive, genuine, and mutually beneficial friendship that is founded on trust.
- He/she lives the type of life you want. A sponsor should have a positive attitude, enjoy sobriety, and demonstrate the type of personal qualities, behaviors, and lifestyle that you want for yourself.
- He/she listens. Chances are, you’ve sat through enough educational lectures and programs during your addiction treatment. A sponsor should not be someone who constantly lectures. Instead, he or she should be a great listener and someone with whom you can share personal struggles without fear of judgment.
- He/she is not someone you’re afraid to talk to. If you’re totally intimidated by someone, you’re unlikely to feel comfortable enough to reach out and ask for help when you need it. Your sponsor should be someone you feel comfortable talking to or asking questions.
How to Find an AA Sponsor: 7 Important Tips
- Attend AA meetings and make an effort to establish relationships.
The first and most important thing you can do when looking for a sponsor is to attend AA meetings (or whatever type of recovery support meeting you choose to attend) and try to stick around before and after the meetings so you can start up conversations with people. This is the first step in establishing healthy, sober relationships outside of your sober living home.
- Make a list of the qualities you want in a sponsor.
Taking the time to think about what you want in a sponsor will help you recognize it when you see it. This list doesn’t have to be extensive or exhaustive. It’s just a way for you to put your needs and wants out of your head and onto paper.
- Don’t arrange to a sponsorship immediately on the spot. Set up a meeting to discuss it first.
When you find someone you think you’d like to be your sponsor, set up a one-on-one meeting to talk about it first instead of just asking them to agree on the spot. This might mean you need to meet at a cafe later or schedule a phone call to discuss the potential sponsorship.
- Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions.
A sponsor should be willing to share their recovery story and personal life experiences with you. During your initial discussion with the person, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their past, their recovery, and their life now. Being open and honest is an important part of the sponsor/sponsee relationship so it’s good to start off on the right foot.
- Communicate your expectations and ask the person about theirs.
Express your wants and needs regarding a sponsor and ask the person about their expectations for a sponsee. Do they want to maintain weekly contact with phone calls? Do they want regular updates from you? Do they like to plan activities with sponsees on a regular basis? These are all things you should find out.
- Ask your sober living house manager for help.
If you’re having trouble locating a sponsor, ask your sober living house manager for help. He or she should be able to point you in the right direction or provide recommendations on how to find one.
- Be patient.
Finding a sponsor can take time, so the process may require some patience from you. But don’t give up! In time, you will find a sponsor. Eventually, as you grow and mature in your own sobriety, you may even find that you’re ready to find your own sponsee!
Additional Sober Living Support Resources at Eudaimonia
At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, our staff recognizes the value and importance of sponsorship in recovery. We also recognize the importance of peer support and accountability within a sober living program. For this reason, we provide several sobriety support services that are designed to help our sober living residents maintain their sobriety, establish a solid foundation in sobriety, and build genuine relationships with other sober individuals. These services include:
- PRSS Support Program: This peer-led recovery support program is provided free of charge to all sober living clients during the first 90 days of their program. The PRSS program helps sober living clients maintain their sobriety by providing certified Recovery Support Specialists. These specialists are peers that have three or more years of continuous sobriety and who are otherwise qualified with personal experience, recovery training, and education.
- Support Employment Volunteering Program: Our SEV program is held three times a week for two hours each session. Group sessions are focused on relapse prevention, chemical dependency education, and life skills. The SEV program also offers educational support, employment, and volunteer assistance.
- Three phase program: Every Eudaimonia sober living client is automatically enrolled in our Three Phase Program, which is designed to help clients adjust to the responsibilities of an independent sober life. As clients achieve various program objectives, they receive rewards such as overnight passes or curfew extensions.
- Drug and alcohol testing: We regularly drug test our residents to ensure accountability and a sober environment for all. We have an in-house lab that makes drug testing fast, efficient, and more accurate.
If you or a loved one is ready to take the next step in sobriety and enroll in a sober living program, contact Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today for more information.