What Is a Sponsor?

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closer look at recovery sponsors

What Is a Sponsor?

Addictions are best managed by a team of professionals who are licensed and equipped to safely guide patients through addiction recovery. Good addiction treatment plans address this disease from various angles, offering mental, emotional, and physical support for the individual. While substance abuse treatment may be effective in the moment, not everyone is ready to be on their own once they leave rehab. That’s why programs like the 12-Step Program, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer continuous support for people in recovery through recovery sponsors. As a Banyan Lake Worth rehab, we wanted to offer a closer look at what a sponsor is, the benefits of having one, and how to find one who can help you in recovery. 

What Is a Sponsor in Addiction Recovery?  

A sponsor, or recovery sponsor, is a mentor or guide who has been in addiction recovery, has worked through the 12 steps, and has been sober for at least a year. Many sponsors have attended AA or NA meetings themselves and eventually became a sponsor to others. Addiction sponsors are usually familiar with the 12-step program and philosophy and help people in recovery apply that philosophy to their own lives.     

Because addiction can ruin relationships and break up families, a person in recovery may feel alone or may lack support. Addicts who are newly in recovery may go home to people they’ve lied to, stolen from, or acted out towards. In these cases, those in recovery may lack the support and care they need to sustain their sobriety.   

This lack of support leaves them vulnerable to dangerous emotions that could potentially threaten their progress. That’s where a sponsor comes in. Because most, if not all, sponsors have suffered from addiction and been in recovery for a certain length of time, they have personal experience that equips them to offer healthy and much-needed support to others who are in the early stages of recovery.   

They’ve been through it, and they understand what it’s like. When you’re going through a tough time, many people tend to offer basic or superficial advice. While they may mean well, we often need the genuine opinion of someone who has been in a similar situation.  

So, what does a sponsor do? Sponsors can offer personal and realistic advice that is unique to the person’s trials. Not only is this necessary for motivating someone in recovery, but it can also remind that person that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t the only one who has struggled with staying sober.  

Additionally, basic AA sponsor responsibilities include:   

  • Pick up the phone when you need someone to talk to: When you’re struggling emotionally or going through a rough patch, your sponsor can be the first person you call. They will help you calmly find a solution, give you advice, or simply empathize with your situation. While no one is available round-the-clock, you can establish a schedule with them so you know when you can reach out to them. If they happen to be unavailable, you can speak to others who are also in AA while you wait for a callback. 
  • They keep you accountable: While every sponsor and sponsee relationship is different, all sponsors are meant to keep their sponsees accountable. As a sponsee, this means you’d check in with your sponsor consistently and attend 12-step meetings regularly. Also, if you seem to be following a dangerous pattern of behavior, your sponsor is, quite frankly, meant to call you out.  
  • They remind you why you’re sober: Almost all people recovering from addiction hit a point where they feel so frustrated or down that they forget why they did this in the first place. It’s also your AA sponsor’s responsibility to remind you of this purpose and the benefits of being sober. 

While a recovery sponsor can help with so much in recovery, we also want to clarify what sponsors don’t do. Recovery sponsors are not babysitters. While they’re there to answer any questions you may have about sobriety, they can only do so much to keep you accountable and on track. At the end of the day, you need to make the daily decision to stay sober.  

At our Lake Worth drug rehab, we understand that not every patient who leaves our facility has a solid support system back home. That’s why we offer a relapse prevention program for patients who have completed at least one of our addiction treatment programs. In this program, patients can learn relapse prevention techniques they can apply to their recovery and connect with others in the recovery community.  

What Is a Sponsee? 

The sponsor-sponsee relationship is meant to offer the sense of community and support that the recovering addict may lack in their life. It’s a tight-knit relationship in which the sponsee can be completely transparent with their sponsor without judgment and vice versa. Because sponsors are educated on addiction and have personal experience with this disease, they can offer sound advice without judgment. A sponsor can also offer support through difficult times and guidance when the person feels like they’re losing their way. 

This relationship isn’t one-sided, however. Sponsors and sponsees are meant to keep each other accountable as they move forward in their rehab programs. Because the 12-step program is built on the idea of service, it encourages its members to find new ways to serve others. When it comes to relapse prevention, it’s important to have at least one person updated on your life and how you’re doing in recovery. In the sponsor and sponsee relationship, one can get help if a relapse occurs.   

So what does a sponsee do? As a sponsee, it’s your job to stay on track and make sure you remain connected with your sponsor. If you’re ever struggling or going through a rough patch, it’s up to you to reach out to your sponsor for support. There are also plenty of relapse prevention strategies that you can apply on your own outside of your sponsorship.  

How to Find a Sponsor  

Fortunately, finding a sponsor has been made easier with the availability of 12-step meetings nationwide. Below are some tips for finding a sponsor that can get you started:  

  • Attend meetings regularly 
  • Don’t be scared to go up and ask someone to sponsor you 
  • Avoid asking people who are newly sober to be your sponsor 
  • Look for a sponsor of the same gender 
  • Make sure your schedules line up (Do they have kids? Do they work full-time? Etc.) 
  • Look for someone who works or has worked with a sponsor 

If you take a closer look at recovery sponsors, you’ll learn that they can have a huge impact on a recovering addict’s life. Our BHOPB detox center offers aftercare services designed to help those who have completed at least one program with us. Our aftercare services are available to our alumni to continuously assist them in their recovery even after they’ve completed treatment with us.  

Don’t wait to start your recovery. If you or someone you care about is battling a substance use disorder, call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 to learn more about our options for addiction treatment in Lake Worth. 


Related Reading:  

Coping With Boredom in Addiction Recovery  

Problem Solving in Addiction Recovery 

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