man talking with sponsor after learning how to find a sponsor for a 12-step program

How to Find a Sponsor: 12-Step Program

If you’ve ever attended a 12-Step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous® (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Crystal Meth Anonymous® (CMA), you’ve probably heard of sponsors. A sponsor is someone who’s been addicted to alcohol or drugs and worked through the 12 Steps. They’ve maintained sobriety successfully, usually for at least a year, and they’re a senior member of the 12-Step group. How can you find an AA sponsor or a sponsor from another 12-Step group?

How to find a sponsor becomes easy when working with a drug and alcohol rehab center in MA. Professionals help you through every step of the rehab process, including finding a 12-step program sponsor.

Why Do I Need a Sponsor?

A sponsor is an integral part of any recovery support system. When you leave treatment, you re-enter a world of people who sympathize with what you’ve been through but can’t empathize. A sponsor can relate to your experience of being addicted to alcohol or drugs and provide personal insight and advice. This means you get more out of your 12-Step experience than just going to AA meetings. And having personal support and accountability means you’re more likely to attend meetings in the first place.

All of this does great things for your chances of staying sober. A sponsorship in AA or another 12-Step program variation is also about having someone to talk to when you need emotional support. Substance abuse recovery can be lonely and isolating. Meeting with a sponsor before or after 12-Step meetings or calling them when you suddenly find yourself in need of guidance and reassurance can make all the difference in helping you avoid relapse.

How to Find a Sponsor

A great time to find a sponsor is when you’re just beginning your recovery journey. Many addiction treatment programs in MA ask that you find a sponsor before leaving. But there is no wrong time to find one! Everyone who has been addicted to drugs and alcohol can use some extra help at some point, even if they’ve been recovering for a while. Whenever you decide it’s right for you, don’t rush it! Finding someone you connect with is worth any time and effort you put in.

The best place to find an AA sponsor or other group support is at a 12-Step program in your area. Go to meetings, and it’s possible the right person will find you based on your story. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you admire to be your sponsor. If they say no, don’t be discouraged. Being a sponsor is a big commitment, and it’s good to know that the person who chooses to be yours is ready to put in the time and dedication.

If you started your recovery with Washburn House, your care team would be happy to help you find a sponsor! We’re familiar with all the 12-Step programs in Worcester and surrounding areas, and we know what qualities a good sponsor has. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help!

What Should I Look for in a Sponsor?

There are a few traits all good sponsors share! A sponsor is:

Compassionate and Non-Judgmental

Your sponsor should be willing to help you become comfortable with 12-Step meetings. If you’re in early recovery—or just left inpatient rehab in Worcester—you might feel awkward joining a recovery community. A good sponsor should be able and willing to walk with you through the process and answer any questions you have. They should ask questions of you as well and take time to learn about your background and what’s important to you.

Well-Versed in the 12 Steps

At a minimum, a sponsor should be sober for a year, but it’s more common for them to have ten or more years of sobriety. How long your potential sponsor has been clean doesn’t matter as much as whether the Steps are visible in their daily life. If your sponsor is indifferent toward sobriety or minimizes, justifies, or falls into indulgent behaviors, stay away. They should also have a sponsor with whom they maintain a strong connection.

Honest and Upfront

Your sponsor should be someone who will call you out when you make missteps. The more brutally honest, the better. They should also know the warning signs that indicate you’re tempted to use again and be comfortable starting those critical conversations with you.

Consistent and Mature

A good sponsor attends AA, NA, CMA, or another program’s meetings with you. They should also meet with you one-on-one or have regular phone calls. If your sponsor can’t keep these routine commitments, you won’t be able to count on them being available when you need them.

What a Sponsor Is Not

There are many misconceptions out there about where a sponsor’s responsibilities start and end. After finding a sponsor, your sponsor is not:

Your Close Friend

You and your sponsor should connect well and maybe even have similar backgrounds, but since the point of having one is accountability, it should look like a professional relationship. He or she might have to be tough on you and tell you hard truths. A sponsor shouldn’t be a romantic partner for the same reasons. You need to set clear, strict boundaries with your sponsor, so you know what to expect from each other.

Your Therapist

A therapist and sponsor are two important—but very different—sources of support. A therapist is a trained and licensed professional. A sponsor draws from their personal experiences and insight to help others in recovery. They’re probably not trained in clinical interventions, so it’s not fair to expect them to guide you through deeply personal issues outside of your addiction.

Someone You’re Stuck with Forever

No rule says you can’t change sponsors if yours isn’t working out. Some reasons for a change?

  • Dishonesty
  • Not feeling safe or comfortable with them
  • Developing too close an attachment or a romantic attraction to them
  • Their relapse

Being confronted or held to strict standards is not a good reason to change sponsors. Your recovery story doesn’t end when you go through a detox program in MA, when you complete addiction treatment, or even when you join a 12-Step group and gain a sponsor.

Someday, when you’ve had a few years of being sponsored and a wealth of knowledge and insight to offer, you may become a sponsor yourself! Giving back to this community is a core component of sober living for many people.

How to Find a Sponsor in MA

Need a little advice about finding a sponsor or a 12-Step group? Reach out to Washburn House. If you think you need more in-depth substance abuse treatment, we’re available in Worcester, MA with the following programs:

We’ll help you find the path that’s right for you. Call 855.298.3104 to speak with Washburn House experts about how to find a sponsor.

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