Sponsors play an important role in a person’s recovery journey. While having a sponsor is a common practice for many different approaches to sobriety, especially in 12-Step programs, they are not an absolute necessity for a successful recovery path.
Having a sponsor can be an incredible resource at any stage in recovery. Looking at the role that they play can help someone decide if they would like to have a sponsor and what kind of sponsor would be right for them.
What Is a Sponsor?
Sponsors are peers who have lived through the recovery process themselves. These are individuals who have navigated detox, residential treatment, and sober living. Sponsors are intimately aware of the unique difficulties that are part of the transformative process to a healthy, sober lifestyle.
These individuals are often still managing their own sobriety and have maintained their sober lifestyle while learning about the intricate complexities of sustained recovery. Having a sponsor can be a good way for those in recovery to receive guidance on the personal aspects of recovery. Sponsors may also offer pertinent advice on how they tackled many of their own hurdles.
Sponsors are there to answer the phone when a sponsee needs a sympathetic ear, is struggling with urges or triggers, or needs advice or encouragement to stay strong in their recovery. These supporters are not just there for support, they also play an important role in keeping a sponsee honest and accountable about their sobriety. In this way, sponsors can be good role models for staying sober and navigating one’s recovery.
Is a Sponsor Necessary?
It is normal for one to be a bit wary of having a sponsor involved in their personal life, as a sponsor/sponsee relationship requires trust and vulnerability from both parties involved. Those who have a sponsor are choosing to trust their sponsor with personal information and difficult experiences while they learn to develop their sober identity.
That being said, having a sponsor is an invaluable resource that greatly aids in the recovery process. It can provide a supportive safety net or practical lifestyle advice that has already proven to be effective for maintaining one’s recovery.
However, having personal outlets and a supportive network of family, friends, and sober peers can be more important than a single sponsor. A sponsor may not be necessary if a person already has a robust support network. Sober peers and family members can all provide a great deal of support and may be able to help fill some of the roles that a sponsor offers.
It is important to make sure that the people in one’s support network are well educated regarding substance use disorders (SUDs) and are willing and able to provide appropriate kinds of guidance and assistance when needed. Having a supportive family throughout one’s recovery is undoubtedly powerful. Although, it may be necessary for them to participate in family programs or receive professional education about addiction in order to effectively fill the role of a sponsor.
Sponsors are essential for their intimate knowledge and understanding of addiction and the recovery process. Adding a sponsor to one’s support network could be extremely beneficial, especially if an individual does not have supporters who have the same kind of education and experience with addiction and SUDs.
What to Look For in a Sponsor
Sponsors can have an incredible impact on one’s recovery. It is important to find the right sponsor for each individual. Despite their important role, if an individual does not have a good fit with a particular sponsor, it can be more beneficial to put off getting a sponsor until the right one comes along. It is better to not force this kind of intimate and vulnerable relationship if one is not comfortable with the other person.
Each individual’s needs and preferences for a sponsor will be different. However, there are some key traits to look for when searching for a sponsor. Effective sponsors:
- Are emotionally and physically available
- Pick up the phone when needed
- Have successfully maintained sobriety themselves
- Have a system for holding one accountable
- Actively challenge one’s recovery
- Have clearly defined personal goals
- Have developed effective communication strategies
- Are personally invested in their sobriety as much as another’s
Having a sponsor can be a great, informative avenue of support. However, forcing this relationship can be difficult. It may be more beneficial for an individual to look to others in their support network to develop these aspects until the right sponsor is available.
Sponsors can have a major influence on one’s recovery by providing guidance, accountability, and support for one’s recovery through their knowledge and experience. Whether you are considering getting a sponsor, or simply looking to expand your community and support, Everlast Recovery Centers can help you find the help you need. We champion the personalized aspects of each client on their recovery path. We are ready to work with you to find the best approach to your sobriety, such as finding a sponsor and developing effective coping strategies. Your time with us is personalized each step of the journey, from detox and residential care to your continued support after completing treatment as alumni. This includes individual and group therapy, psychoeducation, 12-Step programming, art, music, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and much more. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us or to speak to a caring, trained staff member, call us today at (866) 388-6925.