Twelve Step Recovery Workshop

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Twelve Step Recovery  Workshop                  P.O. Box  26145 Baltimore, MD 21210                       410-880-2439         

Working the Steps with a Sponsor

What is a sponsor and do I need one?
Sponsors are people who have worked through the Twelve Steps and are available to help others in their recovery. If you want to work the steps as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a sponsor can offer guidance based on their personal experience. However, it is important to mention that your recovery does not depend on having a sponsor. This program will take you on a personal spiritual path, and sponsors are merely messengers of the experience, strength, and hope that this program offers.
 
Several people from this meeting filled out questionnaires regarding the challenges and benefits of being sponsored. This fact sheet is a compilation of their wisdom and suggestions.
Why is it important to get a sponsor?
While the book Alcoholics Anonymous provides a description of how to work the Twelve Steps, a sponsor can offer specific assignments that help the process along. Moreover, a sponsor's personal experience can assist us to confront problems, and move through them to change and growth.
 
"Working with a sponsor forces me to be honest, gives me insight into the disease and its manifestation in my life, opens me to new ideas, protects me from isolating, and helps me see the reality of who I am and what is going on in my life."
 
"Life has taught me that together people are able to make more progress than as individuals."
How do you pick someone to be your sponsor?
Available sponsors usually identify themselves during the introduction part of a meeting. These people are open to talking with you about working the Twelve Step program of recovery during the break or after the meeting, and are also available to call. Names and phone numbers of sponsors can be found on the "We Care" list passed around during the meeting and are identified with a symbol. In choosing a sponsor, we suggest not focusing on who you immediately like or who makes you feel comfortable. Rather, choose someone whose recovery you admire, and who you sense can really help you recover. Sometimes this is a person who makes you feel somewhat uncomfortable!
 
"I wanted a sponsor who knew the illness very well, and who would not be afraid to confront it whenever and however it might arise."
 
"She [my sponsor] had a serenity that I wanted."
How do know when you are ready to be sponsored?
You are ready to be sponsored when you have recognized a desperate need for help and a willingness to go to any lengths to recover. A prospective sponsor will suggest that you read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and may make other suggestions for you to follow before you both decide whether to work together.
Does the sponsor relationship ever not work out?
Sometimes a person will begin to work with a sponsor and decide the program, or that sponsor, is not what they want. Other times a sponsor may recognize that their sponsee is not taking suggestions or does not seem to want what they have to offer. At such junctures the sponsoring relationship can be dissolved by one or both parties. It's nothing personal. It just isn't working out.
 
"I was ready to be helped and willing to take the step of faith needed to embark on this journey."
 
"I was willing to do anything--ANYTHING--to make the insanity and the craziness in my life go away."
 
"I was willing to listen."
What does being sponsored do for your recovery?
There are many benefits to being sponsored. Actively working with someone else offers you a chance to engage in a relationship based in honesty--an acquired skill for many of us with this illness. It is also an important venue to expose the illness and explore spiritual remedies. Usually we have blind spots. A sponsor who practices loving confrontation can help us break through these and gain a deeper self-understanding. Often people find that they are better able to help others because of the example provided by their own sponsor.
 
"It prompted me to be honest--to open up--to address myself in the illness."
 
"Blast off! I was spinning my wheels for many years trying to do things on my own. Having a sponsor gave me the lift I needed out of all the denial and dishonesty to get out of relapse and start the process of recovery again."
 
"It has changed my view of recovery and the program--I'm more aware of God's love for me..."
 
"I am challenged to be more proactive in my own life, assume a leadership role when appropriate and reach out, sometimes beyond my comfort level, and truly be of service to others."
What should I do if I'm thinking of working the Steps and choosing a sponsor?
If you are thinking of working the Twelve Steps ask someone to be your sponsor! Our experience shows that the desire to ask for help does not always last, and we need to seize the opportunity.
 
"Read the Big Book [Alcoholics Anonymous] to see if this is really the path you want. Find someone who has what you want and ask them how they got it."
 
"Just do it! ... Recovery is for everyone!"