top of page

The Dynamics of Effective Recovery Sponsorship

Once you decide to get sober, a sponsor will be vital in facilitating the success of your recovery.

This person will take you under their wing, guide you, and hold you accountable in your efforts to recover from addiction.

It is always hard to see things clearly when you’re emotionally invested. A sponsor will help with that.


Don’t be afraid to approach someone to be your sponsor. Yes, it’s awkward, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, but if you’re committed to living a clean life, it will be worth it.

Choosing a good sponsor is a significant determinant to the success of your recovery.

You will need to be 100 percent honest with this person about what’s troubling you.

Often, the smallest things trigger a relapse, and a sponsor can help you identify them in your life.

You should feel comfortable calling this person at all hours of the day in case of a crisis.

The process of choosing a sponsor is often informal; after a recovering addicts meeting, you approach a more experienced member in the group and ask them to sponsor you.

Most are happy to oblige. Nonetheless, it is good to have a checklist of the ideal qualities of a sponsor.

Qualities of a Good Sponsor

  1. Similar Sex

This one is a given. In as much as we live in a world where men and women can pretty much do the same thing, it is always easy being honest to someone of the same sex.

Human beings have an automatic response to hide their flaws to the sex they are attracted to, and when you’re an addict, this is something you want to avoid.

Honesty will make or break the road to recovery. Thus, choose someone from a gender you won’t want to lie to because you fear their opinion of you will go down a peg. For instance, a lesbian would greatly benefit from the sponsorship of a man. They are taking away the possibility of an attraction brewing from their sponsorship relationship.

  1. Recovering Addict

Some of the best coaches are those who played the game themselves. That’s because they have hands-on experience and know what works and what doesn’t. They can spot a pitfall a mile away and know how to handle it.

You need someone like this in your court. Someone who will coach you through the steps to a cleaner more abundant life. Heed the recovering addicts’ mantra of “Sticking with the winners.”

Although there is no restriction on how long a person has to be sober or drug-free for them to be a sponsor, you should go for someone who has more than a year of being clean under their belt.

  1. Similar Addiction

A recovering alcoholic would choose another recovering alcoholic to be their sponsor. But that does not imply that you should come from similar backgrounds or have the same interests as your sponsor. You should opt for someone very different from you.

Often, a recovering addict new to the program will feel at ease with someone with comparable interest, and you may be tempted to ask for their sponsorship, don’t. It is likely you relate to the individual because like you, they are also newcomers to the program.

The focus of your relationship should be the recovery process, not friendship. Therefore, you will benefit significantly from the guidance of a sponsor who is totally unlike you with only similar addictions and recovery tying you together.

  1. Active Member

You can identify a good sponsor by their dedication to the program. Does he come early to meetings? How does he/she treat new members? During meetings, an active member participates and shares their experiences. Your sponsor should be quick to reach out to members of your group who appear to be struggling as well as attending meetings regularly.

Moreover, find a sponsor who seems to be enjoying life and laughs a lot. They may be having problems, but they are not always complaining about them. They are optimistic that things will change for the better.

  1. Also Sponsored

Being a sponsor doesn’t automatically mean one has recovered, and thus, they should also have someone who is mentoring them in their recovery. This ensures that your relationship with your sponsor focuses on your issues rather than both your problems. Your sponsor will have someone else to help them in their recovery, just as it should be.

  1. Has Boundaries

One of the most apparent signs someone will make a great sponsor for you are the rules they set as a condition of their sponsorship.

Before the start of your sponsorship, the sponsor should initiate a discussion about what is acceptable and what isn’t. For instance, will your sponsor be available at all hours or just in the morning, he should make that clear.

This is also an excellent time to share what you hope to gain from the relationship. You should also understand that as much as your sponsor is there to help you, they have a whole other life separate from you.

  1. True to their Word

It’s very easy for someone to stand in front of a group and talk a big game about wanting to help others, but it is another thing to back your words with actions. What one does is a reflection on who they are as a person.

Choose a sponsor whose words match their actions that is the ultimate sign of a strong character. Someone accountable who says they’ll do something and it’s not all empty words.

A great sponsor is one who talks the talk and walks the walk. Doing what you say means everything to someone reliant on your guidance. Such a sponsor will also hold you accountable.

  1. Diverse Approach

There is no best way to sponsor someone. You are free to choose a sponsor whose approach to recovery best suits you. Some sponsors have a take it or leave it strategy when dealing with their sponsee while others are content to let you seek their advice in your own time.

There is no one approach that guarantees success. A good sponsor must be skilled in using diverse methods with you to see which one works best.


Just One

It is advisable that a recovering addict only gets one sponsor. This eliminates the precarious situation of an individual jumping from one sponsor to another seeking advice they want to hear.

Sponsor’s Role

The responsibilities of a sponsor are unwritten and informal, but it is a vital part of the recovery process. However, here are some well-known truths;

  1. A sponsor will show you the ins and outs of recovery and as such, will be a good source of information regarding basic concepts and terminologies of the program.

  2. Your relationship with your sponsor will provide excellent practice for building healthy, lasting relationships.

  3. A sponsor should not take advantage of your vulnerability or the trust you’ve placed in them.

  4. In case you are tempted to relapse, call your sponsor immediately.

  5. A sponsor should provide a safe environment for you to be completely honest and as such, should be someone you can trust.

  6. A sponsor should not allow you to develop an unhealthy dependence on them by controlling a sponsee’s life.

  7. Your relationship with your sponsor should be firmly rooted in your recovery.

  8. Your sponsor will hold you accountable and remind you that your word is your bond.

  9. The role of a sponsor is to serve as a teacher, an advisor, a mentor, and a friend when you need one.

  10. A sponsor will encourage and motivate you to live a clean, healthy life.

  11. A good sponsor should embody all that you hope to achieve from your new life.

  12. You will be introduced to other recovering addicts

  13. It is not a sponsor role to be your therapist or psychologist.

  14. A sponsor cannot keep you in recovery if the sponsee is unwilling to do the work.

Your Role

A good sponsor will require you to regularly attend group meetings as well as meetings with your sponsor. Be sure to reschedule your meetings in advance if something more urgent comes up but don’t make this a habit.

Ask your sponsor when the best time to call them will be and if other means of communication such as emails or text are acceptable. It’s crucial that both of you set up these guidelines at the start of your sponsorship to ensure there are no misunderstandings in the future.

Keep communication to a minimum unless it’s in person. Remember that your sponsor has a whole other life separate from your sponsorship.

In your meetings with your sponsor, you may be assigned some tasks. Make a full-hearted effort to do them. It reassures your sponsor that you are committed to staying in recovery.

Limit your conversions with your sponsor to issues concerning your addiction and recovery. If you have other problems you want to talk about, seek out a therapist.

Remember that in as much as your sponsor wants to guide you, they will not have all the answers.

In such a case, seek professional help from your addiction counselor.

Can’t Reach Your Sponsor

An individual’s recovery isn’t only maintained by personal or sponsor efforts but also by the entire recovering addicts group. Sponsorship is just a great way for a recovering addict to familiarize with the program.

There is no superior class of sponsor, and anyone can be your sponsor as long as they are also in recovery. So whenever a sponsor is unavailable to offer advice or talk you off the metaphorical drug ledge, reach out to another member in your recovering addict’s group.

Other resources also available to you are attending a meeting, visiting a clubroom for recovering addicts, reading recovering addicts content from magazines, pamphlets, or online articles, or call a professional counselor.

Switching Sponsors

Remember that you can always switch sponsors if you feel that your sponsor’s advice hasn’t yielded any growth in your recovery or if you lose respect for your sponsor.

Sponsorship is a two-way street; if it is not working for you, it probably isn’t working for your sponsor. Speak up. You don’t need to explain to your sponsor why you want to change sponsors unless you want to.

You’re an adult, and like a grownup, you make a decision and announce it. Thank them for their guidance and support then go your separate ways.

If he/she explodes, it just shows that you did the right thing as they had their ego tied up in the sponsorship.

Don’t agonize over your decision. A good sponsor won’t hold your choice against you. Your next step should be finding another sponsor.


Right Time

It’s never too late to get a sponsor. If you find you have only been able to maintain interludes of being clean or irregularly attend meetings, sponsorship may be the answer.

Whether you just got out of rehab yesterday and are hesitant to “bother” anyone or you have been going at it alone with no success. Sponsorship is yours: All you need to do is ask.

Finding a good sponsor, you can speak frankly to and who listens to you may open a world of possibilities in your life as a recovering addict.

An excellent place to look for a sponsor is at an AA or NA meeting. Experienced and successful people who are serious about sticking to the recovery process frequent these meetings.

Identify someone from a gender you are not attracted to, who has a good grasp of the program. This person will share their experiences with the recovery process rather than their opinions.

Next, ensure this person laughs and smiles a lot. That is a great sign that they are enjoying life in recovery. Isn’t that also your goal?

After the discussion, approach the identified individual. This is the best time because you have ample time to interview your prospective candidates.

Inquire if you can ask them a question and if their answer is yes, you’re off to a good start. Here are some questions you can ask;

  1. How long have you been in recovery?

  2. Are you enjoying life in recovery?

  3. Do you have a sponsor?

  4. Does he/she allow you to sponsor?

  5. Do you have any requirements for sponsoring someone?

Ideally, a good sponsor would answer yes to all the questions. Then you can move on to asking the big question: Will you be my sponsor?

I hope they say yes.

Good luck!

If you need help with sponsorship, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.

The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.

Chateau Recovery Center 375 Rainbow Lane
Midway, UT 84049, USA
If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

How To Choose A 12 Step Sponsor

Choosing the right 12-step sponsor can have a huge impact on your ultimate recovery success or failure. In this video, discover how to ensure you make the best choice for yourself … a choice that will give you the absolute best chance to beat your addiction.

Find out what to look for and how to ensure your personalities match up. Also discover what red flags to be on watch for.

If you truly want to recover from drugs and alcohol, you must take every decision about your recovery seriously, especially your selection of a 12-step sponsor.

Watch this video to find out how to make the best decision for yourself. Find out how to get the support and encouragement you need to recover from drugs and alcohol, and overcome any feelings you may have of being afraid, being confused and being overwhelmed. Find out how to start living the life you’ve always wanted – a life filled with happiness and success.

bottom of page