Portrait of smiling mature man  introducing himself during therapy session in support group to people clapping, copy space
Published On: March 4, 2024|Categories: Substance Abuse|

Addiction recovery is not a task easily achieved solo. Those recovering from addiction are frequently encouraged to rely on trusted friends and family, attend group sessions to meet with others in recovery and otherwise engage with the community around them to prevent any sense of isolation during the process.

Additional support is also usually sought from addiction recovery sponsors. It is important that you feel safe with this man or woman, as their job is to be an additional person with whom you can confide. If you feel like this is jeopardized in any way for any reason, it might be time to find a new sponsor for addiction recovery.

What is an addiction sponsor?

An addiction recovery sponsor is someone who is a senior member of a 12-step program and is well into their journey of sobriety (usually at least a year sober). These men and women are familiar with the process of recovery as they have already been through it themselves, meaning they can personally relate to your situation. 

Essentially, an addiction sponsor is someone you look up to or are inspired by – you select your sponsor because you find their story hopeful, their experience relatable and their presence safe and peaceful. Their job is to be a close friend to you, offering you the space to share stories or thoughts you might not feel comfortable sharing in the group. 

Your sponsor is not a substitute for a therapist but should be considered a part of your support system. While they do not offer any kind of formal therapy, they do offer companionship – a very important facet of recovery.

Is it time to find a new sponsor? 

Your sponsor should be someone you can rely on, confide in and be in a sponsor/sponsee relationship with. But sometimes situations change, and people change, too. The individual you initially wanted as your sponsor might, for whatever reason, become unable to do so. 

While you don’t want to flip-flop through sponsors for the sake of it, some situations might deem it necessary to find someone new.

Romantic feelings get involved

It is not recommended that you and your sponsor enter into a romantic relationship with each other because then the focus is not on your recovery but on the romantic connection. If either of you express or indicate that romantic feelings are involved, it may be time to find someone else who can be a recovery sponsor to shift the focus back to your sobriety goals.

Your schedules don’t align

Life happens and sometimes the person you wish could be your sponsor has a schedule that does not match up with yours. You need your sponsor to be present to you, but if the two of you struggle to find time to meet, it might not be beneficial to recovery. At this point, it’s important to put your recovery first and consider finding a more available recovery sponsor.

Your sponsor is struggling with sobriety

While sponsors are individuals who have been through recovery and maintained sobriety for a long time, they are still in the lifelong process of recovery and they are still human, meaning things can happen. If your sponsor at any point shows indications that they are struggling with sobriety or relapse, you need to put the safety of your journey first and find a sponsor who is still secure in their sobriety.

Your sponsor causes you to feel uncomfortable

There’s a difference between being uncomfortable and being challenged: it is important for your sponsor to gently challenge you in recovery so that you may grow and improve.

However, your sponsor should never make you feel uncomfortable by imposing their opinions, making suggestions about medications or otherwise stepping out of their role as a sponsor (remember, they are neither a doctor nor a therapist). If you feel like these boundaries are being crossed, it is okay to consider finding a new sponsor.

What should I look for in a sober sponsor?

To ensure your sponsor/sponsee relationship is beneficial and healthy, there are some recovery sponsor qualities to look for, including:

  • Someone who is sober and has been sober for a long time, and has journeyed through the process of the 12 Steps (or similar recovery journey) with their sponsor
  • Someone vulnerable, authentic and humble, who recognizes their limitations and yet always strives to be the best they can be despite their past struggles
  • Someone who is an active listener, as you want to make sure your thoughts and concerns are not being dismissed or falling on deaf ears
  • Someone kind and compassionate, as recovery can be a highly emotional process;
  • Someone who you feel you can trust and open up to due to their character and the example they set in meetings

And don’t forget to ask your group therapy leader or counselor for recommendations, too. Personal recommendations can say much about the quality of the individual you are considering for sponsorship.

Ready to find a sponsor?

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, High Focus Centers is here to help. Contact us anytime for recovery support by calling 866-204-7306 or by contacting us online today.

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