What is a Sponsor
A sponsor is another recovering or recovered addict who offers guidance and support in a one-on-one relationship. When we start coming to CMA, people at meetings are there to respond to our questions, but that is not enough, expecially when we are new. Issues come up between meetings, and many of us find we need closer support as we begin to live a life free of active addiction. Our sposnor gives us that support.
One of the first suggestions offered in CMA is to get a sponsor. Just what is a sponsor? How do we get a sponsor, use a sponsor or be a sponsor?
Click for a pamphlet on sponsorship.
What a Sponsor Does
- Makes suggestions to help us stay sober
- Helps us work the 12 Steps of CMA
- Helps us build a foundation for recovery by sharing their experience, strength and hope
- Notes progress that we are unable to see for ourselves
How to Get a Sponsor
All we have to do is ask. Some of us seek out CMA members whose recovery we admire. Some of us request recommendations from friends in CMA. Others ask for help getting a sponsor when we share at meetings. Some meetings have Sponsor Coordinators who keep lists of people available to be a sponsor. Some of us talk to those people and get names and phone numbers of potential sponsors. When we summon the courage to ask for help, we usually receive a positive response. Some of us are told right away, "Yes I'm happy to." Some of us are invited to meet and discuss the idea further to see if it seems like a good match. Sometimes members agree to be a temporary sponsor, helping us for a short time until we find a permenant sponsor.
How to Choose a Sponsor
During meetings, we listen to what people say. We look for members who have the kind of sobriety we want or whose recovery we respect. Many of us pick sponsors whose experience is similar to our own. It helps us relate to them. Some of us pick people with experiences that often differ from our own. Both ways work. It is suggested that we not pick anyone to whom we have a strong sexual attraction, as such attractions can get in the way of recovery, making it more difficult for sponsors and sponsees to share honestly with each other.
Who Can be a Sponsor
There are no rules, but most sponsors have:
- Completed and continue to work the 12 Steps as outlined in our basic text, the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous
- A working knowledge of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
- Personal experience dealing with life in recovery, and continue to practice the program principles in ALL areas of their lives
When to Get a Sponsor
It is never too soon to get a sponsor. Many of us get a sponsor right away. Some of us need to take time to decide whom we want to ask. Some of us resist getting a sponsor, but in hindsight, that made our early recovery more difficult. It has been proven through our experience that working with a sposor makes recovery easier. While we look for a sponsor, we are sometimes approached by people offering to sponsor us. Sometimes we let them, but are not obligated to do so. Many of us begin with a temporary sponsor until we find someone available for a more permanent arrangement. Some of us change sponsors when it is not a good fit. Sponsorship does not have to be a life-long commitment, though these associations have often grown into meaningful, long-term relationships.
How Does Sponsorship Work
CMA, like other 12-Step programs, is based on the value of people with a common problem helping each other. Our sponsors help us to trust and be trusted, perhaps for the first time. Many of us wrestled alone with our problems for so long that we had a tendency to isolate even after coming into recovery. With our sponsor, we start to see that we are no longer alone and never have to be again. We begin to believe that we can do together what we can not do by ourselves. Our sponsor is our hotline. We call them when something triggers us to think about using or brings up unpleasant memories that used to send us to dealers, bars or the internet. Our sponsors provide comfort, identify with our feelings, and give us hope that in spite of how we feel, we do not have to use.
Our sponsor acts as a sounding board when we have to make decisions. We find it a good idea to discuss major decisions with our sponsors--not so they can make the choice for us, but so that they can share their own similar experience with us. Sponsors unfamiliar with a particular dilemma often direct us to someone else in the fellowship who might understand our situation better. Often our sponsor makes suggestions or gives advice based on their own experience. It is our choice to decide what to do.
There are no "musts" in CMA, but we try to be willing to accept the help being offered. Sponsors help not only when times are going bad. We also share our successes and hopes with our sponsor. Simply by sharing, we experience unconditional love, selflessness, patience, tolerance, honesty and trust in these crucial relationships.
What a Sponsor is Not
It is not a sponsor's job to be our landlord, loan company, lawyer, doctor, accountant, psychiatrist, financial broker, marriage counselor or therapist. Sponsors who are in those professions leave that role at the door of CMA. Here they are like us--one addict helping another. If additional guidance is needed, sometimes our sponsor encourages us to seek professional help.
What a Person Does Who is Being Sponsored--The Sponsee
It is suggested that sponsees contact their sponsors regularly, even everyday at first if possible. Many of us call our sponsors everyday even if it is just to check in. We also meet in person with our sponsors. Some of us have sponsors who tell us how often they expect us to call and meet with them. Some us us have sponsors who do not set specific requirements. Both ways work. However we communicate with our sponsor, we find it is important to be honest and keep an open mind. We are willing to try suggestions before we dismiss them. We do the work our sponsor suggests. Our sponsor guides us but makes it clear that we ourselves are responsible for our own recovery. We can not expect our sponsor to work harder on our own recovery than we do ourselves. Sometimes we worry about being a burden, and our sponsor tells us that we are helping them too.
We come to understand that by using our sponsor, we also help them recover. Our sponsor often tells us that they can only keep what they have by giving it away.