Completing a rehabilitation program is a huge accomplishment. No matter how hard the journey has been, you’ve worked to put your health first. Throughout your time in the program, you likely had a team in your corner that helped you the whole way through. Many people who participate in a rehabilitation program are paired up with a person who becomes their sponsor. This person becomes a trusted outlet that you learn to lean on throughout your recovery. You can speak freely with your sponsor, and you know that they’re there to guide you and to root for you through all the trials and tribulations you encounter. Your relationship with your sponsor is an invaluable part of the recovery process.
When someone decides to become a sponsor, they take on the hardships and the responsibility that comes with the job. While it’s certainly not an easy role to take on, it is one of the most selfless commitments a person can make. So how do you know when you’re ready to become a sponsor? Is there a best time in your recovery to make that transition from sponsee to sponsor? Although there is not one universal answer to, these questions, there are a few characteristics that can help you decide if you are ready to become a sponsor.
What’s Expected From A Sponsor?
As a sponsee we know all the ways we depended on our sponsor. The conversations that they had with us, and the advice that they gave us, kept us going during some of our darkest hours. Your sponsor serves as your mentor. They walked through life with struggles similar to yours. They know firsthand the struggles that you face during the recovery process, allowing them to provide a wise and sympathetic perspective. The fact that they have walked in similar shoes ensures the space between a sponsee and a sponsor is open and vulnerable. There’s no judgment within this relationship; the sponsee must feel able to maintain an open and honest relationship with them. Family and friends are great resources, but the familiarity that you and a sponsor share uniquely fills the void. Sponsors provide constant, loyal support to help newcomers learn how to live sober while also validating their struggles.
Sponsorship is an integral part of recovery. Though there may be no formal agreement, the sponsor draws on their personal knowledge and experience to do everything they can to help you stay sober. This could include:
- Encouraging and supporting a sober life while leading by example
- Being honest, even if the truth is uncomfortable
- Fostering giving back to the community
- Educating the sponsee regarding the 12-Step process and programs
- Connecting their sponsee with other useful people and resources
- Being available, in person and over the phone
- Introducing the sponsee to healthier outlets, such as group activities
The Importance of Being Honest
Some conversations are going to be hard to have. An effective sponsor cannot be afraid, to tell the truth, even when it’s not what their sponsee wants to hear. Sometimes an uncomfortable truth is exactly what the sponsee needs to hear. As a sponsor, you may encounter sponsees whose behavior prohibits you from being their sponsor. This might look like someone who continuously chooses not to follow your advice or someone who refuses to take the necessary steps towards maintaining sobriety. A sponsor must be able to be straightforward in letting such a person know that the relationship between them is no longer going to work. A sponsor has to be able to comfortably have conversations that may feel frustrating or confrontational. In the end, a sponsor must always have the sponsee’s best interest at heart.
Becoming a sponsor is one of the best ways you can give back to the same community that once helped you. Some of the best sponsors are the ones who strive to share their experiences and triumphs with others. They show up early to meetings to welcome and greet newcomers. Other sponsors find meaning in visiting treatment centers, jails, or group homes to encourage sober living. A great sponsor is driven to help people who are struggling with demons, and even those who aren’t. They create a safe place for people who are overwhelmed with loneliness and need just one person who understands them. When you find your sponsor, they become the person who helps you to stay sober, while helping you to avoid falling back into your old destructive ways.
Determining if you are ready to make the transition from sponsee to sponsor is an individual process. It can be one of the most rewarding and selfless commitments a person can choose to take on. Though the decision to become a sponsor should not be taken lightly, the rewards are tremendous for everyone involved. Although there are not any universal requirements for becoming a sponsor, there are certain characteristics one should carefully consider before they decide to step up to the role. The responsibility can be overwhelming, and the relationships you build may cause you stress and frustration. Despite the challenges, it’s crucial that you maintain an open, honest relationship that doesn’t enable your sponsee to use. The ability to give back to the same community that once helped you during your darkest hours is what makes the experience incredibly rewarding for many sponsors. If you are thinking about becoming a sponsor and need assistance figuring out if it is the right fit for you, we’re here to help. Call Everlast Recovery at 866-DETOX-25.