Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is responsible for helping many men and women get and stay sober. The 12-Step principles, supportive environment and basic philosophy have been a godsend to many in recovery. For those who struggle with alcoholism, they may find AA to be a safe place to join others who are aiming for a common goal of sobriety.
The Importance of a Sponsor
Those who join AA are advised to get a sponsor, which is essentially a mentor who will take you under his or her wing to provide encouragement and support, as well as keep you accountable. Sponsors are recovering alcoholics who have been sober for some time and now live their lives according to the 12-Step principles. It is important to note, however, that sponsorship is completely voluntary and there is no set requirement of sober time to become a sponsor.For those of you who have some clean time under your belt and have gone through all the Steps with your own sponsor, sponsoring others is the next logical step. If you feel that you are ready to sponsor others or if you’re already sponsoring someone now, here are 8 ways to help you be the best you can be:
1. Be honest.
Honesty is so important. You ought to make it your motto to always be honest with kindness. Your sponsees need you to be honest with them, even if it hurts their feelings or calls them out on an issue. You’re not there to be their best friend. Yes, you can have a friendship, but that bond needs to be rooted in honesty, which sometimes requires tough love.
2. Be available.
Your sponsees may need you often, especially if they are newcomers. If you’re not available to talk on the phone, text or meet, then you probably shouldn’t sponsor anyone. Granted, you don’t have to be available all the time, but being able to pick up the phone when your sponsee calls you with cravings or a pressing issue is important for his or her recovery.
3. Work the Steps.
As a sponsor, you’ll probably encourage your sponsee to work the 12 Steps, so be sure that you are also putting in the work and practicing it together.
4. Attend meetings.
As a member of the AA groups, commit to attending meetings regularly. The amount of meetings per week will depend on your schedule and desire, but making regular meetings is good for you and others, as you get to reach out in love to those who need some tender loving care.
5. Offer unconditional love.
Your sponsees are on their recovery journey and they need your unconditional love. There is no room for judgment when it comes to recovery. They’re going to make mistakes and drive you crazy once in a while, but love them no matter what. Let them know you are a safe person to run to. Let them feel free to be vulnerable and share their struggles and victories with you. Try to remember what it was like for you in the beginning and how you needed loving support.
6. Have your own sponsor.
Be sure that you are active with your own sponsor and continuously working the Steps with him or her so you can grow as best as you can as well.
7. Be clear on boundaries.
Set boundaries and keep them. It is important that you and your sponsee have a discussion about what is acceptable and what isn’t. For example, discuss what you are both comfortable with when it comes to contacting each other. If you’re okay with being contacted at all hours of the day and evening, let your sponsee know. If you can only speak to them during certain time blocks, tell your sponsee as well.
8. Be yourself.
Just be yourself when it comes to your relationship with your sponsee. Walk in humility and admit when you are wrong. Do what feels right for you and if you miss the mark, know that it’s okay. This lets your sponsee know that it’s alright to be authentic and real.
Sponsorship is so important and sponsees need a good deal of support and encouragementin their recovery. Take these tips into consideration as you move forward in your sponsorship.