When you are dealing with addiction, it is common to feel isolated and alone. However, you don’t have to fight against substance abuse by yourself; there are a lot of people who are willing to help you. Finding a sponsor can be a good way to enhance your recovery. When thinking about beginning a relationship with a sponsor, here are some helpful tips to consider.
What Is a Recovery Sponsor?
The idea of a sponsor comes from Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs. In these programs, a sponsor is someone who has been in recovery for a year or more. They agree to mentor a new member of the program, providing all sorts of support and assistance.
Sponsors are not meant to be a therapist or your new best friend. Instead, they are meant to be a personal advisor. They can do things like give you tips or suggestions, and they will try to be there to talk to you when you need them.
This concept has been transferred to all sorts of treatment programs. Even those who are not in a 12-step program may choose to get a sponsor. Some rehab centers will assign you a sponsor, or you may be able to find a sponsor through another type of support group. Not everyone in recovery uses a sponsor, but they can certainly be helpful. Being able to talk to someone who has gone through the same things as you can provide a surprising amount of reassurance and motivation during a difficult time.
Common Tasks Performed by a Sponsor
To get a clearer idea of what sponsors are, let’s take a look at common activities that a sponsor will do:
- Talk with you about their past experiences with substance abuse.
- Encourage you to go to group therapy meetings. Some may help by giving you reminders, picking you up, or offering other assistance.
- Suggest group activities you can take part in.
- Avoid judging you or trying to convert you to their faith.
- Answer your calls or texts when you are tempted to relapse.
- Recognize when you are dealing with major challenges and encourage you to get professional help for subjects they cannot assist with.
- Listen to you when you express your thoughts and talk about your struggles.
The Benefits of Having a Sponsor
Studies find that people who have a sponsor are likely to have better outcomes. In addition to being more likely to stay sober, people with a sponsor also report better mental health and positivity throughout the entire recovery period. Having a sponsor provides you with all sorts of important benefits.
Feel Less Alone
Addiction is an incredibly isolating disease. People often feel like they have to hide how much they used drugs or what they did while under the influence. Your sponsor is someone you can be completely open and honest with. In return, your sponsor will share things about their past, so you can be confident that they sympathize with you. Knowing that there is one person who has been through similar situations can be a surprising relief. You may find yourself sharing things that you hesitated to talk about in therapy or at rehab.
Sponsors Are Always There for You
One of the tricky things about addiction is that it’s often hardest to manage late at night or on the weekends. When your therapist’s office is closed and no one is hosting an AA meeting, it can be harder to deal with things like relapse triggers. Just knowing that your sponsor is a quick call or text away can be very helpful. Of course, sponsors are only human, so they aren’t free 24/7. However, they always pay attention to your attempts to communicate and get back to you as soon as possible. Knowing you can count on someone to be there for you is extremely reassuring.
Meet More Like-Minded People
The people you spend time with have a big impact on your sobriety. Those who leave rehab and go back to socializing with drug and alcohol users are more likely to relapse. Your sponsor can be a valuable bridge to creating sober friends. They help you get to know others in recovery and make you aware of group events and activities.
Guiding You Through Recovery
Since a sponsor has already been through recovery, they are a very valuable resource. When you have questions, they will be there to answer you. Even if your challenges are too big for them to manage, they are usually able to direct you to the right person. Whether you need information on managing withdrawal symptoms, finding a new job, or medication-assisted treatment, your sponsor is there to help. Since you have a relationship with this person, it may feel a little simpler and less formal to reach out to them.
Staying sober is tough, but sponsors provide you with tried-and-true advice. When you wonder about things like how to manage the holidays without drinking or how to stay sober after an argument with your loved ones, your sponsor can help. They can give you a lot of great ideas for how to cope and how to focus on sobriety.
The great part of their advice is that it is usually things they have tried in the past. Everyone is different, so what works for your sponsor might not necessarily work for you. However, a good sponsor will recognize this and also provide tips they have heard from other people in recovery or past mentors.
Does Everyone Need a Sponsor?
If possible, you should definitely try to find a sponsor. Addiction is a complex situation, so the more help you can get, the better. A sponsor makes it easier to stay on track, and they give you much-needed support during a trying time.
The majority of people benefit from having a sponsor during the early recovery period. However, that does not mean that you are doomed to fail if you cannot find one—there are plenty of other alternatives that can ensure that you still get plenty of support. If you do not want a sponsor, you can do things like sign up for group therapy at a rehab center or use a meetup site to find sober friends.
How to Find a Sponsor
Many people fail to get a sponsor because they simply don’t know how. Especially if you are an introvert, the idea of asking someone to sponsor you might sound intimidating. Fortunately, there are several organizations that can make the process easier.
Where to Get a Sponsor
Once you decide you want a sponsor, you have a few options. The simplest is to join a local 12-step program for your specific substance use disorder. At the meeting, be open and honest. Talk about yourself and your struggles, and let people know that you need a sponsor. This gives you access to a network of people devoted to helping others. Even if no one at the meeting is available, they can often put you in touch with someone who is ready to help.
Another option is to go to a rehab center and ask about their programs. Many rehab centers run sponsorship and mentorship programs. They may be able to pair you with another client interested in mentoring someone new to sobriety.
Finally, consider checking local or online support groups. Though these are not formal 12-step programs, they can put you in contact with the type of people interested in sponsoring.
Tips for Choosing a Sponsor
Finding a good sponsor can take some time. Here are some things to think about while you explore your options:
- A longer length of sobriety doesn’t necessarily mean a sponsor is better, but ideally, they should be in recovery for at least a year.
- Check to see when your sponsor is available. One who is on a similar life schedule and lives nearby may be more compatible with you.
- A sponsor should be open to talking about themselves and their struggles, but they should also be trustworthy and not talk overshare information about or to others.
- You and your sponsor don’t need to have the same belief system, but they must be open-minded and willing to accept your differences.
- A sponsor shouldn’t be a romantic distraction. Many people do best choosing someone who is not the gender they are attracted to.
- Good sponsors tend to set clear boundaries. They need to be honest with you and let you know what could cause them to step back from your relationship.
- Your sponsor should be someone with an unbiased approach. Friends, family members, coworkers, or others you know outside of the 12-step program are generally a bad choice.
Get the Support You Need at Granite Recover Centers
At Granite Recovery Centers, we ensure that every one of our clients has a sponsor. In our inpatient rehab programs, we pair each client with another who is further along in their recovery. This makes it easier for clients to acclimate to our program and start their treatment journey. Clients who have progressed to becoming mentors also benefit from the experience because they get a sense of purpose and focus.
We also offer a broad range of other care opportunities. Depending on your needs, our team may recommend that you sign up for programs like medical detox or mental health care treatment. Whichever of our programs you end up using, you can always count on us to provide compassionate, evidence-based care.
We’ll give you the tools you need to work through addiction and commit to sober living. Get in touch with us today to learn more.