The Gift of Giving: The Importance of Sponsorship in Addiction Recovery
Author: Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center Editor
There are many ways to give and receive— and for those in recovery the gift of sponsorship is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Sponsorship allows individuals to express gratitude for their sobriety while offering inspiration to one another. Sean Owen describes how he teaches the gift of sponsorship. “The gift of giving and sponsorship can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of recovery. There is a saying in most 12-steps groups which states, ‘you can only keep what you have by giving it away.’ Taking others through the steps can be one of the bright spots in your recovery and seeing those people recover can be a blessing. You cannot do this alone and that is why a sponsor is so important. It is important to have a guide or a teacher that is willing to take you through the steps, shoulder to shoulder. It is a WE program not a ME program.”
A Sponsor’s Role in Recovery
So what exactly is the role of a sponsor? It’s important to understand what a sponsor does and also what they don’t do.
A sponsor is:
- Someone who has been in recovery for at least a year, has had a sponsor in the past and has worked with the 12-steps themselves.
- Someone who is knowledgeable and offers advice, guidance and encouragement in working with the 12-steps.
- A great resource to turn to about different aspects of the recovery process, with the ability to explain terminology and basic concepts.
- Someone who will listen and provide emotional support throughout your recovery journey.
- Someone who is a role model and an example of how to thrive in recovery.
- Someone who holds the sponsee responsible and shows them how to apply the 12-steps in their life.
- Someone you can trust and who is available in times of crisis.
A sponsor is not:
- A replacement for your therapist. They are not a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
- Someone who engages in controlling behavior or develops an unhealthy dependence. A sponsor cannot keep someone in recovery.
- A close friend that you’ve known prior to treatment or a romantic relationship.
Remember that the sponsee-sponsor relationship must be a good fit. If you need to end the relationship for any reason, it’s ok to be honest about how you feel. This should be a mutually rewarding connection that with the right person can have lifelong benefits.