The final step in the twelve step program states, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Whether you are recovering from an addiction to alcohol, narcotics, overeating, or anything else, if you have made it to the twelfth step, you probably have a sponsor to thank. The twelfth step is an exciting one to reach. Although it is the end of the line for steps, it does not mean that you will never slip up again or be completely free of your addiction. Achieving the final step, however, positions you to be successful for the rest of your life. It means you have been awakened spiritually, have completed all the steps of your program, and are practicing the principles of AA or NA. It is important, too, to remember to carry the message. Return the gift that your sponsor gave you by becoming one for a newly struggling addict.
The Role of a Sponsor
Since you have been through the steps with the help and support of your sponsor, you may think you understand what role you will play as a sponsor. However, it is not necessarily clear from the addict’s perspective all that the sponsor does. Your role as a sponsor is to be an example, a positive influence, a counselor, an advisor, and a crutch in times of great need. As a sponsor, you can expect to be there whenever your recovering addict needs you. They should understand that when you have urgent business elsewhere that you may not be available, but you have a duty and responsibility to be there most of the time. Your addict will depend upon you more than anyone else for a period of time and it is your role to fill that need. You will also be responsible for introducing the newly recovering addict to your AA or NA group. You are expected to encourage him or her to attend meetings and to read the appropriate literature.
The Rules of Sponsorship
There are no set rules, but there are some unspoken rules about sponsorship. One important rule is that sponsors and addicts should be of the same gender. It is not impossible to sponsor someone of the opposite sex, but most groups believe that it is not as effective. Another unstated rule is that if you cannot be there for your addict in a time of crisis, you have a responsibility to find someone else who can help them. Being a sponsor is a one-way street. You are not allowed to unburden yourself on the person you are helping. When you are having a tough time, you turn to your sponsor.
Are you Ready?
To be an effective sponsor, you must be ready to fulfill the role. There are no set in stone guidelines on when a person is ready to become a sponsor. You have to decide for yourself, with advising from your own sponsor. The longer you have been sober, the better you will be able to help someone who is new to recovery. You must also be ready to be patient and understanding, and to spend a great deal of time with your addict. When you are ready, becoming a sponsor is an important step in your own recovery. Being a sponsor for someone else is not just volunteer work. Sponsoring bolsters and strengthens your own sobriety. When you are acting as a role model for someone else, you will be less likely to slip into old habits.