Finding a sponsor is a key component of successfully recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction. According to research published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 40-60% of individuals relapse within the first year of sobriety. Establishing a strong support system early in your sobriety can cultivate a strong foundation for maintaining continuous sobriety. However, many individuals in early recovery are leery of forming relationships with new people, especially forming an intimate relationship with a sponsor. Allowing yourself to be rigorously honest and trusting someone you don’t know may feel weird at first, but sponsorship is the key to maintaining continuous sobriety. Here are some tips to help you find a sponsor in recovery.
Attend 12-Step Meetings
When looking for a sponsor, the first step is to attend a 12-step recovery meeting. Finding the right sponsor for you can be a daunting task, but remember you aren’t alone. Thankfully, the community found in 12-step meetings can help ease your anxieties and open up the door to learning about prospective sponsors near you. During some 12-step meetings, you will find the format includes the speaker asking if anyone is looking for a sponsor. This would be a perfect opportunity to raise your hand. More often than not, you will find that people within the meeting will approach you and maybe even offer their numbers. Don’t be afraid to get to know people in these meetings and begin your search for finding the right sponsor.
Interview Potential Sponsors
Before choosing a sponsor, it is important that you take the time to get to know prospective individuals. Interviewing potential sponsors is a great way to ensure long-term compatibility. Asking about the potential sponsor’s sobriety date is a great place to start. You can also ask the individual if they have sponsored someone before and if they have the experience with certain situations in order to help you determine if they are a good fit for you. For example, you can ask questions about expectations, how they go through the steps, and how they handle individuals who have struggled with trauma or other mental health conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. After all, this person will be guiding you through the 12 steps and be the person you call for advice on difficult situations throughout your sobriety.
Look for Different Perspectives
One of the most important aspects of finding a sponsor in recovery is understanding you do not have to choose a sponsor who is exactly like yourself. For example, your sponsor may have different hobbies, cultural background, religious preferences, political views, and different perspectives. However, as long as your sponsor has experience in sobriety and has the qualities you are looking for. You are likely to benefit from experiencing a different perspective on your addiction. It is important that you always seek to relate and never compare when listening to others discuss their experience in recovery.
Choose a Sponsor Who is Available
As you begin your journey to finding a sponsor, it is also important that you find a sponsor who is available to commit to sponsorship. According to an 8-year study:
- Approximately ⅓ of people who are abstinent less than a year remain abstinent.
- After achieving a year of sobriety, less than half of these individuals will experience a relapse.
- Once an individual makes it to 5 years of sobriety, the chance of relapse is less than 15%.
Committing to your sobriety now will make it easier to maintain your sobriety in the future. Regular contact with your sponsor is one of the most important aspects of your recovery. Sponsorship is an intimate process that varies based on the individual needs of each person in recovery. In other words, your relationship with your sponsor will be determined by where you are personally and what your individual needs are. The time involved in sponsorship and how you meet and connect may also vary. It is not uncommon fo your cravings and triggers to be vibrant in early sobriety, especially if you are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Choosing a sponsor who is available to meet your individual needs is an important part of your recovery.
Choose an Honest and Trustworthy Sponsor
Your number one goal in recovery is to stay sober. Therefore, it is paramount that you find a sponsor in recovery who is honest and trustworthy. You cannot afford to work with a sponsor who is afraid to speak up if they feel you are headed for a relapse. The bond between a sponsor and a person in recovery is one of the most important and intimate relationships. You will share a lot of fears, insecurities, and even secrets with this person. Finding a trustworthy and honest sponsor will ensure you feel safe and are able to speak freely while ultimately cultivating your healing and a firm foundation for your sobriety.
In the end, there are no rules for choosing a sponsor. The most important component of choosing a sponsor is choosing someone who has experience in recovery and someone that you feel safe and comfortable with. Take the time, after leaving rehab, to find a sponsor who you think will be able to help support and guide you through the 12-steps as you navigate through recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction.
If you’re not sure where to start, contact one of our addiction specialists today to learn more about how our treatment programs work with the local 12-step community to help patients achieve life-long sobriety.