A 2012 study in the peer-reviewed journal Addiction found that having a sponsor in recovery can improve a person’s ability to remain sober. But what, exactly, is a sponsor? And what are the specific benefits of having a sponsor in recovery?
What is a Sponsor?
A sponsor in recovery is a person who has been where you are and can help you get to where you want to be. Sponsors aren’t professional therapists. They are simply people who are willing to support others by sharing the knowledge and insights they have gained during several years (or even multiple decades) in recovery.
Sponsors serve as guides to people who are new to recovery and the 12-Step recovery model. They can offer information, support, personal advice, and general guidance. They can also serve as an example of what consistent effort and adherence to the 12-Step model can accomplish.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Sponsor in Recovery?
It would be impossible to list every way that a sponsor can help. In general, though, here are just a few of the many benefits of having a sponsor in recovery:
It’s no secret that active addiction can be an isolating experience. Even when you were surrounded by other people, you likely had more than a few moments where you were sure no one could possibly understand what you were going through.
Your sponsor in recovery understands what you were going through.
Perhaps more importantly, they understand experiences that you haven’t even had yet. In addition to having lived with addiction, your sponsor has also lived in recovery. They can empathize with the challenges you are facing to today, and they will understand what it’s like to overcome the obstacles you may encounter as you progress in your recovery.
Someone to Lean On
Sometimes you simply need to vent. Or cry. Or wonder aloud if you really have what it takes to remain in recovery. Depending on what you’re feeling, you may not be comfortable expressing your thoughts to a friend or family member.
In those moments, a sponsor in recovery can be a person to lean on. They know how hard recovery can be. They understand that everyone has doubts, fears, and moments when they’re not sure how they will get through the next 24 hours. Whether you need advice or you just want someone who will listen, when you have a sponsor you know that there is someone who will always take your call.
Sympathy Without Judgment
You’re not the only person who was harmed by your addiction. Your struggles with substance abuse also impacted the people who love and depend on you. Though these people hopefully still love and support you, there were surely moments in your shared past when they judged you negatively because of your actions and decisions.
Your sponsor in recovery doesn’t have that type of a relationship with you. Whatever you did when you were in the throes of active addiction didn’t affect them in the least. This is one of the reasons why they are uniquely prepared to sympathize with what you’re going through. And they do this without judging you for your decisions or past behaviors.
Source of Motivation
Every effective teacher or coach knows that motivation can take many forms. Sometimes, people need a pat on the back and a reminder that they are valued and appreciated. In other circumstances, they may be best served by a metaphorical kick in the seat of the pants and an admonition to stop whining and start working.
As we noted earlier, your sponsor in recovery will understand what you’re going through. They will also hopefully understand what motivates you to keep fighting. This combination can be a valuable source of inspiration on days when you need a push in the right direction.
Identifying and adhering to your core values are important parts of your recovery efforts. Your sponsor can’t be beside you on a daily basis to help you live up to your personal standards, but they can offer moral support and continued encouragement. And in the moments when you fall short (which everyone does), they can remind you that you are capable of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and continuing to move forward.
Knowing that you have the unwavering moral support of someone who truly cares about you can make a world of difference as you walk the path of long-term recovery.
Living Proof that Recovery is Possible
No matter how much you want to remain in recovery, some days will be much harder than others. Maybe you’re confronted with a specific problem, or maybe you’re simply doubting your ability to make the daily effort it takes to safeguard your sobriety.
Your sponsor in recovery is living proof that you can emerge from the depths of active addiction and achieve successful, long-term recovery. On the days when you question whether what you are trying to achieve is even possible, your sponsor will be evidence that your goals are within your grasp.
How Long Does Sponsorship Last?
There is no limit to how long sponsorship can or should last. As with so many other parts of recovery, sponsorship is a concept that is open to interpretation. If the relationship with your sponsor is continuing to benefit you (and them), there’s no reason to stop just because you reached a certain date on the calendar.
As you grow in your recovery, you may find yourself consulting with your sponsor on a less frequent basis. But that doesn’t mean you have to end the relationship. Even when you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to sponsor someone else, you may still benefit from having a sponsor of your own.
Find Help for Addiction in Florida
Ambrosia Treatment Center is a respected provider of personalized addiction treatment services for adults in South Florida. We offer detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient programming. If you or someone that you care about have been struggling with an addiction to alcohol or another drug, the Ambrosia Treatment Center team can help. Contact us today to learn more.