A sponsor is someone who has gone through all twelve steps of a 12-step program. This person has completed the program of recovery and can take you through it as well. The purpose of this sponsor is to help you through the recovery process. The first thing you need to do when you get sober and join a 12-step fellowship is to get the literature about the fellowship.
For example, if you are going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you want to ask the secretary of the meeting how you can acquire the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the book that fellowship uses. Other fellowships use different books and literature, and you may feel lost without this crucial starting point.
Once you have the book, you should also ask for a “12 & 12.” This is a smaller book that outlines the twelve steps and twelve traditions. This book illustrates the steps using more accessible language. It also includes a breakdown of each step, which makes it invaluable as supplemental material. It also covers the twelve traditions, which are a guideline to how 12-step meetings should function.
Of course, there are no rules in a 12-step fellowship, just guidelines. Still, it illustrates problems and solutions that a group might run into and provides a framework by which these problems might be solved. It is handy for people to learn about if they want a more in-depth look into this program or if they are having issues at their meetings in general.
Beyond the Literature
Once you have the books necessary to do your step work and you’re going to meetings, the other necessity is getting a sponsor right away. How do you find a sponsor that is right for you? First of all, there is a ton of literature that talks about what you need to do to find a sponsor or how to find one. This literature can be found at any central office location or any 12-step fellowship meeting. Often, these meetings are held at a central location called an “Alano club.” These clubs hold meetings frequently throughout the day, and you can usually stay active in meetings from dusk to dawn by hanging out here.
Hanging around an Alano club, however, isn’t the whole story. You’re going to need a sponsor. This sponsor idea is essential because you need someone to act as a voice of reason, especially in the early days of recovery. They can guide you through your recovery process and show support. There are stories in the back of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous that also help provide perspective. These stories illustrate the struggles other people had as well and how they were able to overcome. At the end of meetings, there are typically people that will raise their hands to indicate that they are available for sponsorship.
Things to Consider
There isn’t much to consider when searching for a sponsor. As alcoholics and addicts, we tend to overthink and over-complicate things. We want to find the perfect sponsor, or we have preconceived judgments about what these sponsors should look like. It is vital to keep an open mind and be willing to see that choosing the “perfect” sponsor is irrelevant and impossible. This is important because we don’t even know what is best for us in the beginning. Because of that, we aren’t necessarily going to know what is the right choice.
Still, there are some general guidelines worth considering. Listen to people who share or speak and see how you identify with their feelings. Don’t pay attention to the differences, be aware of the similarities. This can help broaden your scope, and you will find a sponsor that you can relate to. It is also a common saying that you will hear your story one day in the rooms of a 12-step fellowship. There will be a person you will one day relate almost completely to. in other cases, you may not hear your story in any meetings you go to. Don’t despair – just grab a sponsor who seems to be working the program. Each day without a sponsor is a day where you’re at higher risk for relapse.
Length of sobriety is often recommended as a good yardstick by which to measure potential sponsors. Of course, it is dependent on several factors. It’s best to not pick someone who may still be very new to the program, but you may relate better to a person only a couple years ahead of you. Other people prefer sponsors with decades of sobriety. Choose someone that you will be able to take direction from.
It is also said that you should pick someone based on if you want what they have. If a potential sponsor has an excellent connection to a higher power, a good job, and a place to live, that might be a great choice for you. It is also recommended for men to stick with men and women to stick with women. After all, the twelve steps are a very vulnerable process. Of course, there are no rules in 12 step programs, and these are all suggestions. The best thing you can do is have an experience with it; you will quickly see what works and what doesn’t.
Sponsorship is an important part of sobriety if you choose to follow the A.A. program. Even before you get to that point, however, you may want to build a strong foundation in the very earliest days of your recovery. After all, it’s hard to grab a sponsor if you can’t even make it to a meeting without a drink or two to get you through it. At Rancho Milagro Recovery, we’ll help you do the work necessary to get to the point of finding the right sponsor and program of recovery for your lifestyle. If you’re ready to make a change and start the process of getting sober, give us a call at (951) 526-4582.