22June

What is AA Sponsorship?

What is AA Sponsorship?


Sponsorship was born out of the idea that “You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you.” When someone is new in recovery, it is vital for him or her to get a sponsor. 

A sponsor is a fellow alcoholic who has worked the 12 steps and is willing to take another alcoholic through the steps as they are laid out in the Big Book; that person must be willing to change and grow along spiritual lines. The primary role of the sponsor is to help the recovering alcoholic through the 12 steps. That means being a good friend, a teacher and a source of strength.

Above all, it means providing support and encouragement to someone who is learning how to live a life of sobriety. When looking for a sponsor, you want to look for the similarities in that person’s story and recovery as well as someone who has a program of recovery that you want. It is important for the sponsor to have a strong AA program, be understanding and have the time to devote to sponsorship.

When I was first going through the 12 steps I was in treatment, and it was a requirement for me to have a sponsor to work the steps with. At first, I was not very willing to find one, but I knew I had to have one so I did. To my surprise, I was quickly won over with the idea of a sponsor. I was told I needed to find a female sponsor, because it needed to be someone I would not be romantically attached to. The sponsor/sponsee relationship is so intense and intimate that my counselors wanted to be sure no romantic feelings could interfere with my recovery; in general it is also suggested to have a sponsor of the same sex.

My sponsor and I went through each step together and worked on the steps as long as I needed in order to get everything from the specific step we were working on. She was very patient with me and was more than not always able to talk in that moment when I was struggling and just needed someone who has struggled as well. I found the relationship between my sponsor and I to be the foundation to my AA program.

Yes, everything I learned in treatment was helpful and has helped me continue to stay sober today, but my sponsor was the first one to really take me through my deepest and darkest places and still love me and respect me at the end of the day. Because of the work I did with my sponsor, I was able to allow people back into my life and regrow relationships I thought were unrepairable. 

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

About the Author

Eric Miller

Eric Miller

In recovery since 2008, Eric has a great deal of knowledge about substance abuse. He couples his experience with his observant Jewish upbringing to offer a Jewish lens to the issues of addiction and sobriety.