Have you ever wondered “what is a sponsor in AA?” Many people who consider attending 12-step meetings are curious about what participation entails, what a recovery sponsor does and whether it’s right for them. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of AA and how to find the right recovery mentor.
The meaning of Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous, often abbreviated “AA,” is a peer-led support group for those in recovery from problematic drinking behaviors. Individuals who attend may struggle with heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcohol addictions or alcohol use disorder.
The meaning of Alcoholics Anonymous may vary depending on who you’re talking to. Some apply the term “AA” to any 12-step program, and others may be referencing the entire international organization. In most cases, though, AA indicates a group of individuals who are working to overcome an addiction by meeting to discuss their experiences and encourage one another.
Alcoholics Anonymous is open to any person of any age, background of stage of recovery. The meetings are free to attend and occur in community settings like places of worship or community centers. Participation is voluntary, although you may hear of individuals who are required to attend as reparation for a drinking-related offense.
The program of AA is founded on a 12-step spiritual process that emphasizes connecting to a higher power through finding healing, forgiveness and peace. The end goal is to live a fulfilling life outside of alcohol use. AA meetings are widely available and it’s likely you can find numerous meetings in your own city or town each week.
What is a sponsor in AA?
AA groups make use of recovery sponsors, who are more seasoned members who can guide and empower newer members. A sponsor may have a year or so of sobriety under his belt, and offer to assist someone in working through the 12 steps who is only a few weeks into recovery.
What does a recovery sponsor do?
A sponsor in recovery is essentially a mentor. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are not professional treatment, as they are peer-led and not directed by licensed or certified clinicians. While there are cons to this model, perhaps the greatest perk is that all those who participate are sympathetic to the difficulty of recovery because they are all in active pursuit of it.
Having a sponsor through AA can assist your recovery by providing tried-and-true advice to your personal situation. A mentor inspires confidence by helping you to identify your strengths and apply them to your daily life, as well as offering accountability. You and your sponsor may meet a few times a month to discuss strategies to avoid relapse and check in regarding personal and treatment-related goals.
How do I find the right AA sponsor?
Choosing a recovery sponsor for AA isn’t as simple as asking the first person you click with at a meeting. Use these tips to find the right sponsor for your long-term success.
1. Find a sponsor who is at least a year sober
The first year of recovery is the most difficult. The first days and weeks are fraught with physical cravings, and the emotional difficulty really sets in during the following months. After roughly a year, recovery tends to stabilize and there’s much more security in preventing relapse.
Finding a mentor for AA should take this into account, and you’re want to ensure that the member you invite to be your sponsor is significantly further along in sobriety than yourself. This person should also have a sponsor of her own.
2. Chose someone you can be honest with
It’s important to feel comfortable with your sponsor. Your conversations will commonly be filled with personal and private details that pertain to your triggers. You may even need to own up to a relapse or problematic behavior that is leading down a bad path. You’ll need to pick someone who you can be open with in order to truly impact your recovery.
3. Don’t pick your best friend
Although it is always a temptation to choose a sponsor who seems fun and easy-going, it’s much better for your recovery to pick someone you know will challenge you and have your best interests at the forefront of her mind. Choosing someone who simply seems enjoyable to spend time with doesn’t necessarily equate to being an effective sponsor.
4. Attend several meetings
Impressions can change over time, so you may want to refrain from inquiring about a sponsor at the first meeting you attend. You may find that someone you thought would be a great fit is less dependable or consistent than you initially thought.
5. Ask the group leader for advice
After a few meetings if you’re stumped about the right pick for a recovery sponsor, check with the group leader. He is likely to have a good gauge on the regular members and direct you towards someone reasonably compatible with your personality and secure in his or her own sobriety.
Recovery can feel elusive, especially in the first days, weeks and months of sobriety. Thankfully, there are clear, concrete and actionable steps you can take to embrace healing and find freedom from alcohol for good. One of those steps is working with a recovery sponsor. Another important step is reaching out for professional treatment.
If you’re serious about bettering yourself and improving your life, check out Silvermist Recovery. Contact us today to make the intrinsic change towards a more fulfilling and free life.