Joining a support group that follows the 12-Step model might be your first step towards full sobriety after leaving a treatment center. Still, it can be easy to get lost in the sea of other people also trying to quit a life-threatening habit, and you might feel overwhelmed and discouraged without a real connection.
One of the people that you’ll meet at a sobriety program is a “sponsor,” or someone who acts as a mentor, confidant, and friend throughout your healing process. Your sponsor is someone who will provide you with a voice of accountability and encouragement during your critical first year of sobriety.
Your sponsor is your mentor in the program. They work as a guide who has been in recovery longer than you and has worked through the steps. They’re at the point where they no longer have to drink or use and have been a part of the program for at least a year. They help you work through the basics of the program like membership, working through the steps, and answering common questions you might have about the process.
Sponsorship is the best way to introduce you to the program. According to a study from the Recovery Research Institute, those with a sponsor following treatment have a 33% or 50% greater chance of no illicit drug use or stimulant use one month after treatment than those without a sponsor. The fact is, having someone to hold you accountable and make you a part of something can help with sobriety. Having a support system and people who care can do wonders for achieving your sobriety goals.
The great thing about the sponsor is that they’ve been in your shoes. They know what it’s like to be in a new space and to feel vulnerable and lost. They’ve been apprehensive before. They’ve questioned whether or not this process will actually work. They know about the hardships that can come from struggling with an addiction.
The sponsor works as someone you can talk freely to, and they provide confidentiality outside of the large space of the program. When you are willing to admit that you have a problem and that you need help, a sponsor is there to help as a friend and as a confidant because they know how hard it is. It can be relieving to know that at least one person fully understands the situation and cares. It helps to have someone who won’t shame you for problems that arise from addiction. A sponsor is a sympathetic friend you need the most.
Attending a new program can be overwhelming for some. If you’re not the most outgoing person, or like most people, you feel nervous around new people, your sponsor can guide you through that as well. Sober programs that follow the 12-Step model create a network of individuals who are there to help each other with their goal of sobriety. Getting to know more people other than your sponsor can help you stay accountable and feel a part of something bigger.
Your sponsor will encourage you to attend different program meetings to expand your perspective. They’ll also introduce you to other members, that way you can meet new people and learn about their experiences and viewpoints. Another thing sponsors will do is urge you to join in group activities. It further enforces the idea that you are a part of something and have people you can work with and count on.
Additionally, there are some roles a sponsor doesn’t fulfill. A sponsor isn’t a therapist or a social worker. They can help you access professional help if needed, but they aren’t professionally trained to offer that kind of help. They aren’t someone who should impose personal views such as their opinion on religion if you don’t share the same beliefs. They aren’t someone who has all of the answers and will be honest if they don’t know something, but at the very least, they can direct you to someone who might have the answers you need.
A sponsor isn’t selected for you. You choose your sponsor. It can be nerve-racking asking someone to make this sort of commitment, but most people who have been in the program are honored to be asked in the first place. Usually, they’ll ask people at meetings to raise their hand if they are available to be a sponsor. Otherwise, it helps just to talk to people and ask around to see if you are interested in having a sponsor.
A sponsor should be a senior member of the program, preferably someone who has been attending meetings for a year and has maintained sobriety for that time. If the first person you ask says “no,” don’t feel bad or embarrassed; they most likely have a good reason to decline.
Sponsors are often the main people that a person attending a 12-Step program thanks for their sobriety. Sponsors are the people who took the time to listen to other’s struggles, and they share their own stories of addiction and recovery. They found that having someone watch their back made dealing with their own addiction easier. Sponsors often want to pay it forward by working with individuals new to a 12-Step program. A sponsor can be a vital part of your support system as you carve out your new path in this sober lifestyle. Addiction isn’t easy, but having a confidant can help in times where you feel ashamed or scared when others might not understand what you’re going through. Cornerstone offers 12-Step program meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, combining spiritual work and treatment when it’s needed most. For more information about the power of the sponsor or the 12-Step process, contact us at (800) 643-2108.