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

An AA sponsor shaking hands with a person in recovery

Getting Support: What To Look For in an AA Sponsor

If you’re wondering what to look for in an AA sponsor, you’re probably already on your path to recovery. Well done!

Getting support from an AA sponsor can improve your chances of overcoming addiction. This is because AA sponsors intimately know the struggles of being an addict and can urge and support you to be more proactive.

So, if you’re ready to take the next step, here are some pointers to help you find a well-suited AA sponsor.

What is an AA Sponsor?

An AA sponsor is someone who provides emotional support and guidance to a recovering addict.

An AA sponsor is an addiction survivor who has made progress in their own path to recovery and has been sober for at least a year.

Unlike therapists who are qualified to make diagnoses and prescribe treatments, AA sponsors serve as mentors and use their own experience with addiction to encourage sponsees throughout their recovery.

 People gathered at an AA meeting

What To Look For in an AA Sponsor

According to studies, sponsor-sponsee alliances can lead to positive results for both sponsors and sponsees. Some of these positive consequences include better AA meeting attendance and engagements, continuous sobriety, and enhanced treatment outcomes.

However, finding a compatible sponsor can be a challenge. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a good AA sponsor.

1. A Good Sponsor Can Spot Warning Signs

When trying to beat addiction, you might find yourself justifying some bad behaviour that might have contributed to your addiction. A good AA sponsor can spot these warning signs and help redirect a sponsee away from a potential relapse.

If you are in the earlier stages of recovery, you might want to opt for a more experienced sponsor because you are still transitioning from and are vulnerable to going back to old habits.

2. You Must Be Comfortable With Each Other

When you’re dealing with issues and need help, you’ll need to be comfortable enough to open up about your troubles. This will allow your AA Sponsor to understand you better and offer help when you need it. It will also help them give you honest feedback about your progress and point out issues you might need to address or discuss with your therapist.

Comfort requires trust, so you must trust that your potential sponsor will be discreet and compassionate when you start talking about struggles, secrets, and insecurities with them.

3. They Are Patient and Even-Tempered

A recovering addict can be stubborn at times and might make decisions that can compromise their recovery. A potential AA sponsor should have the patience to deal with an addict experiencing a crisis or a sobriety challenge and not get angry or become judgmental when an addict calls for help.

4. Find Someone Who is (Somewhat) Like You

Sharing a few similarities with your AA sponsor will make it easier for them to understand where you are coming from. The advice they offer might also be more effective because it worked for them in the past. But keep in mind that having a few differences can also give way to breakthroughs and different perspectives that can benefit you both. Ultimately, finding common ground will allow you to connect without getting distracted from the goal, which is recovery.

5. They Practice What They Preach

Do they have a good sobriety record? Do they fully understand the 12-step program? It’s important to make sure you are being guided by someone who is a good influence.

a woman on the phone with her AA sponsor

6. They’re Familiar With Healthy Boundaries

Good sponsors are aware of their limitations. It’s important that they:

  • Are aware they can’t treat trauma or disorders (when it comes to mental health, it is best to talk to a doctor);
  • Don’t impose their beliefs on you, whether they’re religious, political, or personal;
  • Should not try to develop romantic relationships with you or their other sponsees as this can affect compliance and negatively impact treatment.

Likewise, you should be able to recognize boundaries to prevent over-dependence or burdening your sponsor. Friendships can develop over time, but a sponsor-sponsee relationship should focus on recovery and sobriety.

7. They Want and Have Time to Be a Sponsor

Being an addiction survivor does not automatically make one a good sponsor. Ideally, sponsors should have open availability and be able to tend to a recovering addict facing a challenge at an unusual hour. So take note of their personal availability, the number of sponsees they are already sponsoring, and of course, their willingness to mentor.

How to Get an AA Sponsor

You can find an AA sponsor through meetings, referrals, or networking.

Asking and observing fellow attendees at an AA meeting and getting a recommendation from your therapist are great ways to find a good AA sponsor.

If you’re shy about approaching people, you can also ask an AA chairperson to introduce you to a prospective sponsor or just let attendees know that you are actively looking for a sponsor.

Getting Professional Help

Knowing what to look for in an AA sponsor is important when choosing a recovery partner. But sometimes, you might feel like you need more support. When this happens, know that you can get professional assistance. Doing it early on can prevent a relapse and sustain the efforts you’ve already made to restore your health.

Freedom From Addiction is available 24/7 to take your call. Our one-on-one programs are designed to address underlying issues, so your recovery continues even outside our care. Talk to us now, and let us help you recover sooner and enjoy a life free from addiction.


Leave a Reply

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