Becoming a sponsor is a commitment that offers many benefits for both the sponsor and the person he or she mentors. A study done by Brown University Medical School revealed that when a person becomes a sponsor, they are much less likely to relapse. When I became a sponsor, I found that to be true, because I wanted to set the healthiest example possible for the person I was mentoring.
Becoming A Sponsor
I started by letting the members of my AA group know that I was willing and ready to become a sponsor to someone new to the group. It is recommended, however, that you don’t select someone and ask them if they want you to be their sponsor, but to wait until they come to you instead. There are several reasons for this:
- The newly sober individual has to feel comfortable with the person they select.
- Their choice to seek out a sponsor must be done in their own time frame.
- Not all newcomers to the group may not want or even need a sponsor, depending on which stage of recovery they are in.
- Only they know when they are ready for a sponsor.
Some Good Traits A Sponsor Should Have
I learned that what I went through before I went into recovery gave me the ability to relate to the person I am sponsoring. Some other necessary traits are:
- Be tough when certain situations call for it – You can’t make any excuses for them or you will just be enabling them to continue drinking or using.
- Honesty – It is critical that you are honest with both the person you are mentoring and yourself in order to give them what they need to succeed.
- Patience – You must be willing to work through the hard times in addition to giving them positive reinforcement.
- Be available 24/7 – As you well know, temptation can and often does occur in the middle of the night or on a holiday. In the beginning, those cries for help usually occur often and can be brutal. You must be strong enough in your own recovery to get them through the storm.
Responsibilities Of A Sponsor
As a sponsor, I must do everything I can to assist the other person in finding and maintaining sobriety. This is done mostly by sharing my life experiences and wisdom gained from them. In addition, I must show him or her, by example, what is possible when sober.
There are also several tasks I must complete:
- Encourage them to attend AA or NA meetings regularly.
- Make suggestions about various programs and encourage them to keep their mind open about various opportunities.
- Increase their support network by introducing them to other members.
- Make sure they have all the support materials and literature for various groups.
- Answer any questions they have about how the programs work and what they should expect from them.
Since organizations such as AA or NA are founded on the idea of one addict helping another, there is no formal training to be a sponsor, only a willingness of heart. The only other criteria is that you are living and working the program you are a part of, whether that be a 12-step program or something else. If you have been asked to be a sponsor, but you aren’t sure whether or not you are ready to take on that responsibility, talk with your own sponsor about it.
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