Leaving treatment can be daunting for an addict in early recovery. It is crucial to have a support system in place. Two of the most prominent ways to find support are the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
These groups allow addicts and alcoholics to share openly- in confidence- with others who understand their disease firsthand. The primary objective of both fellowships involves finding a Sponsor to guide the individual through the Twelve Steps.
Oftentimes, at the beginning of meetings, the Chair asks members that are willing to be a Sponsor to raise their hands. This alleviates the guesswork. Feel free to make your own announcement if the Chair does not do so.
Typically, most in early recovery start with a Newcomer’s Meeting. An information packet, including the phone numbers of all same-sex members, will be given to the Newcomer- who is the most important person in the meeting. People will approach the Newcomer to welcome them. Inevitably, the topic of Sponsorship arises in conversation.
Your Sponsor is the most important relationship you will have in recovery. Finding the right Sponsor is imperative. It is advised to get a Sponsor as quickly as possible, even if you are using a Temporary Sponsor until you find the perfect match.
One of the most significant questions you need to ask your Sponsor is how much sobriety (and/or clean time) they have. There is no concrete answer for this. You will not find a specific amount of time in the Big Book of AA or the Basic Text of NA.
Instead, there are some guidelines upon which most members will agree. Here are three of the main ones:
- Your Sponsor should have more clean time than you
- Your Sponsor should have at least a year of sobriety
- Your Sponsor should have significant clean time under their belt – more years equals more experience
Sometimes those in early recovery focus more on their connection with a potential Sponsor as opposed to how efficiently a person can guide their Sponsee. Part of the beauty of recovery is building connections with a wide variety of people in all stages of recovery. A person with less sobriety may be a fine Sponsor- just not for you.
If your Sponsor does not have more clean time than you, how are they expected to walk with you through the Twelve Steps and share their experience, strength, and hope?
Most groups suggest at least a year- sometimes two or three- as the minimum ‘requirement’ for a Sponsor’s clean time. While a year in recovery is certainly an accomplishment, people have been known to have difficulties between the first and second years of sobriety. Many groups offer a recommendation for the length of sobriety of a Sponsor, so take notice.
Remember, every Sponsor also has a Sponsor. Getting to know your ‘Grandsponsor’ is very rewarding. Just like you, your Sponsor relies on their Sponsor and the guidance and wisdom they provide. If the Sponsor does not think their Sponsee is ready to have Sponsees of their own, they will advise against it.
If a potential Sponsor is unable to work with you, do not take it personally. Both they and their Sponsor have your best interests at heart and want you to succeed in your sobriety. They will gladly introduce you to others who are ready and willing to Sponsor.
Many individuals in long-term recovery suggest finding an “Old-Timer,” or someone with many years of sobriety. This is certainly beneficial. A Sponsor with years of clean time doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. They have ample experience to share with you.
Sponsors in long-term recovery clearly work their program. They’ve worked the Twelve Steps. They stay in the solution, not the problem. They can only keep what they have by giving it away.
Finding the right Sponsor may not happen in a day. Talk to multiple individuals. Ask questions. Let them tell you about their recovery and length of sobriety. After all, this is not a journey meant for an individual to travel alone.
Are you or a loved one ready to begin the journey to sobriety? We can help. Our counselors are available 24/7 and are waiting to assist you. Give us a call at 833-846-5669.