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What is an AA Sponsor? Why do I Need One?

As addiction is a complicated disease that affects people in profound and diverse ways, it follows that there’s no single one-size-fits-all treatment that works best for all addicts. Each individual who suffers from addict has a specific set of individual circumstances that led to his or her suffering. One method that has been successful in helping addicts and alcoholics recover are twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. A crucial part of belonging to the fellowship of AA is having an AA sponsor. Sponsorship is an important factor in the program as well as maintaining sobriety.

Twelve-Step Programs for Addiction Treatment

Twelve-step programs are a popular choice for both individuals who are just beginning recovery as well as those who have completed treatment and are working to maintain sobriety for the long-term. In fact, many inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs include participation in a twelve-step program as part of a recovering addict’s recovery regimen during treatment, through aftercare, and beyond. Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer individuals the accountability that they wouldn’t necessarily have on their own, a sense of community, an extensive support network consisting of peers, and a way to both share experiences and benefit from the experience of addicts who have been in recovery for a long time.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a central philosophy of this type of program that offers individuals a sort of recovery checklist. This includes an individual’s needing to accept the reality and severity of his or her addiction, acknowledging the sheer power of addiction, identifying people that the addict has harmed over the course of his or her addiction and making amends whenever possible, and so on. While the Twelve Steps break recovery into a series of more manageable steps, those who participate in twelve-step programs are encouraged to find a sponsor in the program, which has led many to wonder what it is that a sponsor does and why it’s advised for recovering addicts to have them.

What is an AA Sponsor?

Especially for individuals who are in recovery for the first time, achieving and maintaining sobriety can be daunting. Even though the Twelve Steps are intended to make recovery more manageable by breaking it into a list-like format that addicts follow in chronological order, it’s helpful to have a guide of sorts who has firsthand knowledge and experience with the Twelve Steps and can help to guide newcomers through twelve-step recovery. Fortunately, that’s exactly the purpose of an AA sponsor.

An AA sponsor is someone who has extensive practical knowledge concerning how to go about completing each of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—commonly referred to as “working the Steps” by members in the program—due to having previously worked the steps him or herself, continuing to work the steps currently, and having become a resource for individuals who need help acclimating to twelve-step recovery. As part of the sponsorship, an AA sponsor will educate an addict who is new to the journey of recovery on each of the Twelve Steps including the greater significance of each step, meanwhile walking the newcomer through the program and introducing him or her to the philosophy, purpose, and goals of twelve-step programs. Since sponsorship means providing an individual who is just beginning the journey of recovery with guidance and being an ongoing resource for him or her, this is a very close one-on-one relationship.

Oftentimes when individuals are still relatively new to sobriety and abstinence, simply attending and participating in twelve-step meetings isn’t enough. It’s common for issues to come up between meetings such as cravings, temptation, being confronted by triggers, questions or concerns regarding one of the Twelve Steps, and so on. In such cases, it’s helpful for individuals to have someone more experienced that they can call on the phone or even meet with in person outside of meetings, getting a more significant level of support and recovery reinforcement than only attending meetings. Sponsors are most often long-term members of a twelve-step group that an addict new to recovery chooses for sponsorship so long as both parties are in agreement and the sponsor is both able and willing to take on sponsees. It’s the sponsor’s duty to essentially be an on-call resource for the recovering addict, listening to him or her as is needed, making suggestions or recommendations that serve to increase the longevity of the individual’s recovery, coach the recovery addict through completion of the Twelve Steps, sharing previous experience and wisdom in an effort to impart hope and strength, encourage the recovery addict to purpose and read a variety of recovery literature, and recognizes achievements that the recovering addict may be unable to see for him or herself.

The Importance of Sponsorship in Recovery

Although it’s possible to be successful in recovery without sponsorship, it’s highly recommended that individuals find a sponsor early in the process of participating in twelve-step recovery as it’s the sponsor’s duty to be an ongoing resource for the individual. An AA sponsor provides one-on-one coaching, helping individuals in recovery to learn about each of the Twelve Steps as well as complete them. Perhaps most importantly, sponsorship offers the benefit of constant, ongoing reinforcement for individuals who may still feel insecure or unsure of their ability to remain sober.

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, Drug Treatment Center Finder can match those in need with the inpatient and outpatient programs that offer freedom from addiction and the path to a fulfilling, healthy life. Call us today so that one of our recovery specialists can find the perfect recovery program for you.