Finding Sponsorship in AA

If you think you need help, programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) exist to help you toward lasting recovery. The 12 Step program exists to give you the tools that you need to remain sober and offer you a life with meaning and direction. A sponsor is one of the best tools that you will have along the way. These sponsor relationships can lead to life-long friendships and are beneficial for both parties. However, misconceptions exist over what this relationship is and how it functions in AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous strives to provide love, support, and fellowship for those struggling with addiction. The first meeting establishes that nobody is there to offer advice or instructions on how to stop your drinking or drug use. By design, this recovery will move at your pace and not pressure you into feeling you need to finish with anybody else from the meeting. Competing with others defeats the meaning of recovery. Everybody has a different approach that works for them, and AA is simply about finding support and reinforcing that you have help when working toward your sobriety goals. While you should not be comparing yourself with others in the meeting, guidance should always be welcome, and this is why finding a trusted sponsor is essential.


When choosing to practice the 12 Steps, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the curriculum. You will be given a lot of information and literature, just as you would before starting a course in school. There is much to learn about each step in order to get the most thorough benefits from them. Having a sponsor will help guide you through the steps and ease the pressure of feeling overwhelmed.

The relationship with a sponsor is about having the opportunity to draw on your experiences. Some believe that you are there to be evaluated by your sponsor, as if the sponsor grades you pass/fail based on your choices. This is untrue. While there will be an aspect of accountability, this is shared between both you and your sponsor. At no point should a sponsor try to take charge of your life and recovery. The purpose is to help empower you in recovery, not punish you. While a sponsor can undoubtedly act as a mentor, this relationship is more about being equals than a hierarchy because your story and your experiences offer knowledge to your sponsor too. These shared experiences will help elevate and motivate each of you toward the continuation of seeking the best possible recovery and the best possible life.

Selecting the Right Sponsor

Understand that it is more than okay to ask questions of a potential candidate for sponsorship before making your decision. In fact, it is encouraged. This can include questions like, “Have you completed the 12 Steps?,” “Do you have a sponsor?,” “Are you willing to undertake the responsibility of being a sponsor?” You should also pay attention to what they say during meetings. Consider someone who is rooted in the solution rather than the problem. A sponsor who is a proactive problem-solver will, in turn, help you develop into someone who is motivated to solve their problems. Since you are new to recovery, it is strongly encouraged to pick someone for whom you will not develop romantic feelings. Romantic endeavors between those in recovery could lead to potential downfalls and relapse later if problems arise.

Ultimately, your sponsor and your relationship with your sponsor could be the most beneficial tool for you. The 12 Steps can prove challenging, and while they can offer great opportunities for healing, they can sometimes cause obstacles in your recovery. Having a sponsor on your side to work with you will not only help hold you accountable but also motivate you to want to overcome challenges. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings–it is more than okay to be picky about who you choose to be your sponsor.

This Relationship Is a Privilege

This experience will be like no other. Your relationship with your sponsor will help you practice humility through your experiences and build strength and hope in each of you. It is a bond built upon trust and the willingness to listen when needed. Though it might seem difficult at times, a good sponsor relationship will challenge you to look into yourself and ask, “What can I do to help me?” Yes, it might stir up emotions from the past, but being open and willing to face them will, in turn, offer you growth as a person and as a friend. These friendships are a privilege because they embody trust, understanding, and humility.

The responsibility of a sponsor is to help you along the way as you find meaning in yourself and your journey. Because this is a relationship founded on equal ground in that the roles might occasionally reverse, your sponsor will develop mutual trust and allow themselves to become vulnerable in times of need. Programs that offer sponsorship like AA are also a great way to start the path to recovery—especially when you are feeling hesitant. Your sponsor likely understands what you are going through because they are going through it as well. If you think that you lack the courage to commit to what Alcoholics Anonymous and sponsorship offer, you can always call True Recovery—even anonymously.

True Recovery offers 24/7 support and is sensitive and understanding of how hard it is for those struggling to seek help and you can speak to someone anonymously and ask questions or express concerns about the recovery process. Ultimately, True Recovery will help you find your courage. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.