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Am I ready to become a sponsor?

Though the concept of a “sponsor” wasn’t a part of Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s original plan, having a sponsor formed as AA grew. And it’s a great thing to have been born: As you likely already know, a lot of people coming out of addiction treatment have questions or concerns in-between meetings. Put simply, you can’t beat having that one-on-one support from someone who just gets it and has lived through it.

Question is, how do you know when it’s time to move from the sponsee to the sponsor and start working the 12th step?

Well, the answer is, when your sponsor tells you it’s time to start helping others. There’s no timeline or surefire way to know when it’s time to become a sponsor – that depends on the person.

What we can tell you are some characteristics that make for an effective sponsor.

Not afraid to tell the truth

A good sponsor isn’t afraid to tell their sponsees the truth – especially if the truth isn’t what the person wants to hear, it’s what they need to hear. In fact, sometimes the truth might be jeopardizing your relationship with the person. If the sponsee isn’t following your advice or isn’t open minded to the steps, you have to be comfortable to say, “This isn’t going to work because you aren’t doing …. “or “I’m concerned about you because …” There is no enabling; just tough love.

Always giving back

The best sponsors are the ones who are out there carrying the message each and every day. They’re the ones who get to meetings early to welcome newcomers, speak at jails or treatment centers, and just go out of their way to help someone else. They’re the ones who are driven to help people, whether someone is suffering from addiction or not. They see every day as a new opportunity to help someone.

Happy and enjoys life

When someone finally has a spiritual awakening, suddenly everything falls into place. The feeling that comes along with this peaceful, eye-opening awakening radiates into every aspect of the person’s life – you can feel it from the moment you meet them. This doesn’t mean they never experience difficult times or get down in the dumps. It just means that they are grateful, positive, and manage to pull themselves – and others – back up.

Encourages and supports

Becoming a sponsor means helping someone grow. Sometimes, that growth is from scratch. Other times, it’s continuing to grow on what has bloomed before. Either way, a good sponsor will help their sponsees learn to try new things (and learn from mistakes along the way!) and take risks when a risk needs to be taken.

Knows the steps

You probably already know this, but we’ll say it anyway: Step work is the groundwork of recovery, leading to successful sobriety. Being a sponsor means being committed to working the steps. You want to be well-versed in the steps so you can digest them fully and help break them down for new sponsees.   

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