A sponsor is someone you choose to mentor you through recovery. A sponsor is responsible for guiding you, supporting you, and taking you through the 12 steps. You’ve probably heard the phrase “working the steps” or “working a program,” even if you don’t know too much about addiction treatment or recovery. The steps/program referred to are the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, though many whose drug of choice is not alcohol complete the steps to give them clarity and a way to work through issues unique to addiction.
Once you’ve identified a potential sponsor— at a meeting, through a mutual friend, per someone’s suggestion— there are some things you should consider before jumping into stepwork. You might want to ask a potential sponsor the following:
How long have you been sober?
Less sober time doesn’t mean that you should not consider someone as a potential sponsor, but you want to have an idea of how much sober time they have under their belt.
Have you worked the steps all the way through?
This question may seem obvious, but it’s not any less important. You want a sponsor who is at least familiar with all the steps and how to go about working through them, and someone who has never made it past the fourth step themselves might not be the best person to help you with yours.
How quickly do we go through the steps?
One person might want you to work one to two steps per week, and another might have you spend two weeks on one step. There is no set time frame for completing the steps, but you’ll want to have an idea of what your sponsor has in mind and that it’s a timeline that you’re comfortable working with.
What motivated you to finally get sober?
The answer to this question can help you to get to know your sponsor better. Working the steps, especially for the first time, may seem intimidating, and hearing your sponsor’s story and struggles can help ease your anxiety and put things into perspective by reminding you that others understand what you are going through. If you have similar motivations, this can serve as additional encouragement.
What has your recovery journey been like?
The answer to this question, too, can help you get to know your sponsor better.
What are your expectations for me?
As a sponsee, you should ask logistical questions. Aside from clarifying meeting frequency and timing, you should confirm details like whether or not your sponsor wants you to call them regularly and by when you should have any assignments completed.
Do you have any other sponsees? If so, how many?
It’s okay if your potential sponsor is sponsoring other people, but you don’t want someone who has too much on their plate and may have difficulty making time for you.
How long have you lived in the area?
Someone who has lived in an area for longer probably knows more people in the community and can connect you with others in recovery or support/meeting groups.
Do you live far?
You’ll want to confirm that they live relatively close to you or somewhere that makes meeting regularly convenient for you both.
Also, ask yourself if you like this potential sponsor. Maybe someone you know suggested them as a sponsor for you, but upon meeting them, you don’t feel that you would be comfortable working together. It is essential that your sponsor is someone you respect and trust, or can at least see yourself reaching out to for support or help.
Royal Life Centers at Sound is an addiction recovery center located in Lacey, Washington. We offer all levels of aftercare, from PHP to sober living, and our specialists treat dependence on alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids. Please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY for help or with any questions that you may have about our programs.