Becoming a Sponsor is a Major Recovery Milestone, & Here’s Why

Two friends sitting together

Nate Orona April 8, 2021

Becoming a sponsor is one of AA’s final steps, but it’s about more than just “paying it forward.” The role of becoming a sponsor also plays heavily into one’s own recovery. Here are a few of the many benefits you’ll find when you become a sponsor.

The Inspiration Goes Both Ways

It’s a sponsor’s job to inspire their sponsee to live an alcohol-free life. But that inspiration doesn’t have to be one-sided; in fact, it’s more effective if the inspiration flows both ways. The sponsor will learn from their sponsee’s experience. And when the two share sobriety and the benefits that come with it, it creates a stronger bond and a stronger sense of willpower to refrain from alcohol. 

Additionally, by exemplifying the positive effects of a sober lifestyle that a sponsee can witness and learn from, a sponsor reinforces the positive habits they’ve developed over the years. 

You’ll Sharpen Your Saw

Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about “sharpening your saw.” This means “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”

As a sponsor, when you share your knowledge and experience regarding staying sober, you’ll continue learning new ways to implement what you’ve learned. By demonstrating these habits, skills, and coping mechanisms as a sponsor, you’ll reinforce these methods’ effectiveness in your life, further helping your continued recovery.

You’ll Gain a New Source of Motivation

There is no ranking system in AA. A sponsor and their sponsee are on the same level in that regard. But a sponsor is someone that a sponsee should be able to look up to as a role model. Upholding that role model status is yet another reason to stay sober.

When an AA member becomes a sponsor, they know they are now setting an example for someone else. This dynamic creates additional motivation to stay sober.

It May Help You Overcome Regret

As someone recovering from a substance use disorder, you may have regrets from your past. These regrets may have to do with being absent and not providing support when needed because alcohol took precedence over family and friends. 

Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love, recommends looking at regret as a cue that something needs to change. By assessing what is important to you and incorporating that into your life moving forward, Lombardo says you will find it easier to move past regret.

By becoming a sponsor, you’ll be offering support to a sponsee who needs encouragement and understanding from someone who knows what it’s like to be in their position. While it doesn’t necessarily make up for the time lost with friends and family, being a sponsor is an external signal to yourself, your sponsee, and others that your priorities have changed.

This is a huge step in recovery because it emphasizes the fact that people change. You can bounce back from missteps in your past.

Being a Sponsor is a Rewarding Experience

Sponsorship is often considered one of the most rewarding relationships when it comes to recovery, and that reward doesn’t just belong to the sponsee. It belongs to the sponsor, too. Seeing firsthand the help that they can give someone who’s struggling provides a morale boost that is good for the sponsor’s self-esteem. 

It’s easy for someone in recovery to feel outcast by society or constantly kicked when they’re down. But with sponsorship, there’s always someone on your side, someone in your corner. If you’re a sponsor, your sponsee needs you—and the feeling of being needed by someone you know you can help is rewarding in itself. 

You’ll Gain Perspective

Sometimes, people struggling with addiction are defiant and reluctant to accept help. A sober sponsor understands this more than anyone else, and you may find that your sponsee has a similar attitude—at least at first. 

As a sponsor, you’ll see things through a different lens. This will give you a better understanding of your loved ones’ perspectives. This experience will allow you to see what it was like for your loved ones so you can see the ways that your alcoholism affected and may still affect the people you love. 

With this new perspective, you can further mend relationships with people from the past you may have hurt.

Increase Your Odds of Success

Finally, due to the benefits enumerated above and others not covered here, becoming a sponsor leads to better results for the sponsor. Statistics show that being a sponsor increases your chances of maintaining sobriety. The Project MATCH trial found that people who help others maintain sobriety had a substantially larger probability of remaining sober.

The Sponsor-Sponsee Relationship is Mutually Beneficial

As someone in recovery, you may have damaged every relationship in your life. But by becoming a sponsor, you can build a new relationship founded on trust, mutual support, and honesty. 

Though a sponsor’s role focuses mainly on helping their sponsee navigate the rough waters of society, the support you give will likely redound back to you.

Begin or Continue Your Recovery with Silicon Beach Treatment Center

If you are ready to begin your recovery or are working to maintain your sobriety, Silicon Beach Treatment Center can help. We tailor our treatment plans to meet your specific needs.

We offer comprehensive care, world-class mental health support, the latest therapeutic techniques, and a team of professional clinicians to help you overcome the debilitating effects of addiction.

To learn more about our programs, contact Silicon Beach Treatment Center today.

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