Choosing a Sponsor in Recovery
In early recovery attending an intensive outpatient program or outpatient program is a common next step after completing detox. Many patients also choose to attend 12-step based meetings as part of their continued recovery process. It is recommended that immediately upon entering treatment individuals begin the process of choosing a sponsor in recovery.
The 12-step model provides support to others in the beginning stages of treatment and has proven to be an effective form of relapse prevention for many. The idea behind a sponsor is to have someone to contact in any moment of extreme temptation or relapse. A sponsor is also someone who will be able to provide you with enlightenment and wisdom while also giving emotional support in delicate moments where sobriety may be compromised.
The relationship you have with a sponsor is much like any other. A great deal of effort must be instilled in the relationship for it to be mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Below is a list of tips to look for when choosing a sponsor.
- Start by finding a sponsor at a meeting you frequent. Finding a sponsor that attends the same meetings guarantees that you both have similar interests. This will make it easier to have check-ins and meet-ups with your sponsor. Having someone at your local meeting means that in a time of need you won’t have to go out of your way to see someone or risk not seeing them for periods of time.
- Choose a sponsor of the same sex. It is highly suggested, although not a rule, that you choose a sponsor of the same sex. It is already advised in recovery to refrain from new romantic relationships on the first year of sobriety to stay focused on the program. Choosing a sponsor of the same sex for those who are heterosexual eliminates the risk of becoming attracted to your sponsor and therefor compromising your recovery. It is also more likely that you’ll find someone you can identify with and relate to most.
- A sponsor should have solid recovery time. By choosing a sponsor who is living a successful life in sobriety you’re selecting a person who can be beneficial by holding you accountable to your recovery goals.
- Take your time in choosing a sponsor. There is no rush to choose a sponsor. It is more important that you invest the time and thought in the search process to find the best sponsor for you. Start by making a list of all the qualities you are seeking in a potential sponsor. Don’t worry about how long it many take, many support groups provide a list of temporary sponsors to help out while you search for your ideal long-term match.
- Your needs may change and that’s okay. Don’t feel as though you are trapped once you choose a sponsor. As time goes on and you progress through the stages of recovery, your needs for a sponsor may change. In the beginning you may need someone who is inspirational and motivational, but as time progresses you may need someone who provides a different type of guidance. If there is ever a time where you feel you aren’t getting what you need from a sponsor-sponsee relationship, don’t hesitate to change sponsors.
Finding the right sponsor should be a simple task if you invest the time and thought into making the best choice. Don’t be afraid to seek advise from people who have been working the program for a solid amount of time. You can visit http://www.aa.org or http://www.na.org to find meetings near you.