Ready to get help? Our Treatment Consultants are available 24/7.

A man lending a hand to help another man get on top of the hill.

AA Sponsors: What They Are and How Can They Help Sponsees in Addiction Recovery

There’s no doubt Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps individuals get sober. Research shows it has helped more people achieve sobriety than therapy.

The success of this international fellowship can be attributed to the social interaction model it uses. AA believes a person who’s trying to get sober must be surrounded by others with the same goal to achieve optimal success.

A lot of the evidence confirms that the support participants get from one another doesn’t just help them get sober—it also helps them stay sober.

Let’s take a closer look at AA sponsors and how they help sponsees in the recovery journey.

What’s an AA Sponsor?

Part of a participant’s support system in the road towards sobriety is an AA sponsorship. It’s a word often heard of in recovery, but what is a sponsor exactly, and how do sponsorships work?

An AA sponsor is someone who has had a drinking problem, followed the 12-step process, and maintained sobriety over time. Typically, a sponsor is a senior member of the group who has been in recovery for at least a year.

What Does a Sponsor Do for Sponsees?

Sponsees can talk to sponsors about things they’re not comfortable sharing during meetings, even if it’s beyond the meeting’s time frame.

The role of a sponsor is somewhat like that of a confidant; someone who truly understands the struggles of a person trying to get over their alcohol addiction because they’ve experienced the same struggles themselves.

Because of this, it’s easy to confuse or treat AA sponsors as therapists, which they are not. Their help is not what could be expected from professional counsellors and therapists.

Some confuse an AA sponsor with a close friend. Although many sponsors do end up becoming close friends with sponsees, starting a sponsor-sponsee relationship as close friends (or romantic partners) makes objectivity challenging to achieve.

The best sponsor is always someone the sponsee respects, trusts, and feels comfortable with. But remember that all sponsorships are temporary—both the sponsor and sponsee are free to end it at any time for any reason.

10 Benefits of Having an AA Sponsor

Although getting a sponsor isn’t mandatory, it’s definitely recommended. Studies show an AA sponsor increases the chances of a person’s successful recovery.

What are the things that make getting a sponsor beneficial? Here they are:

1. Shared Experiences

A lot of people in early recovery are uncertain if they’re really an alcoholic. An AA sponsor can help objectively review their sponsee’s past drinking habits and evaluate how it has affected their life.

AA sponsors can also share their own experiences to demonstrate how people are powerless over their addiction. This shared experience creates a connection between them and helps make sponsees feel less alone.

2. Someone to Lean On

People in recovery will sometimes feel depressed and weak. There are times when they might feel like they’re a failure. A sponsor can help them get out of those moods, remind them how far they’ve come, and the things they can look forward to.

A sponsor talking with a sponsee on a highrise building

3. Source of Motivation

The road to recovery isn’t easy and surely won’t be smooth. When things get hard, a sponsor can help the sponsee endure hardships and motivate them to continue moving forward.

4. Sympathy Without Judgment

When the going gets tough, AA sponsors can help comfort sponsees by listening to their deepest thoughts, feelings, and stories without the fear of being judged.

5. Provide Additional Resources

There are many resources that will help a person recover from alcohol addiction—speaker tapes, prayers, recovery literature, etc. An AA sponsor can guide sponsees and point out where these can be found.

6. Living Proof That Recovery Is Possible

It’s tough to continue with recovery when the call to drink again is strong. AA sponsors serve as a reminder that no matter how impossible it feels to resist the temptation, complete recovery is possible.

7. Help Prevent Relapse

AA sponsors understand that relapse happens, and that it’s a part of recovery. They may have relapsed themselves at some point during their own recovery.

So when they see their sponsees relapse, they help them get back on track instead of shaming them. Sponsors also help figure out how future relapse can be prevented.

8. Provide Moral Support

A first-timer might find it intimidating to attend AA meetings. But having an AA sponsor by their side, with whom they can really connect with, will make the process easier and more comfortable for sponsees.

9. The Possibility of a Lifelong Friendship

A sponsor doesn’t have to be friends with the person he is sponsoring—that isn’t how sponsor-sponsee relationships begin. But many of them form a kinship along the way that develops into a strong, lifelong friendship. Knowing that they have a close friend they can always turn to who understands exactly what they’re going through may provide comfort and inspiration for sponsees.

10. A Partner to Help Work the 12 Steps

At the core, an AA sponsor is someone who can help a person work through the 12 steps, from start to finish. Because sponsors have worked on the steps themselves, they can provide practical support and guidance to their sponsees to ensure a successful recovery.

A Guide for Sponsees: How to Choose an AA Sponsor

Choosing a sponsor is an easy, informal process. There is no specific system or formula to pick one.

All that’s needed is to find a person who seems trustworthy and has a compatible personality (and sensibility) with the sponsee. Once the potential sponsor has been identified, the sponsee simply asks the person to be his sponsor.

An AA sponsor holding the hands of a sponsee to provide strength and moral support

Find the Right Sponsor at Freedom From Addiction

An AA sponsor isn’t necessary, but the help they give sponsees is immeasurable. If you or a loved one is seeking a sponsor, Freedom From Addiction can help.

Our team has the competency to plan an effective recovery program and give personalized care to treat severe alcohol dependency. From detox to rehab, we are here to help you. Contact us today to start your journey to sobriety.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *