When first coming into recovery, it is very difficult to know and understand what direction to take in recovery and in life. Sober Nation makes a point to incorporate all forms of long term recovery into the content that we send out to the world.
Out of all recovery programs, Alcoholics Anonymous is the most widely used and celebrated. AA, NA and the 12 steps have helped millions of suffering alcoholics and addicts get and stay clean. Part of the program of AA suggests that you get a sponsor. A sponsor essentially is someone with more clean time then you, that will commit to take you through the 12 steps.
We have already given some advice and information about sponsorship, and what a sponsor is. We think it is important to give a personal account on how a sponsor can help. Many times personal insight is just as beneficial then information.
One of the most important things you can get from your sponsor is his or her experience. Living life without drugs or alcohol is very new and foreign to us. For years many addicts have used drugs as the solution to their problems, and now are expected to handle life without their main coping mechanism. This is where a sponsor can really help.
Whatever type of situation you are going through, chances are your sponsor has already gone through it. Sometimes just having a different perspective on things can make a huge difference in the way you feel. For instance, my sponsor reminds me to be grateful. Maybe I am having a bad day at work, or maybe I am having trouble in a relationship. These problems are nothing compared to what I used to go through while in active addiction, and with a little reminder from my sponsor my perception will change. My entire outlook changes.
Another benefit of a sponsor is being held accountable. It is very difficult to see the truth in a situation, especially when it pertains to myself. I have heard over and over again that we are the last ones to really see what is going on with us. Sometimes you need to be remind when to tell on yourself, and look at yourself. Objectivity is huge. Your sponsor has an outside perspective, and as long and he or she in honest with you, your sponsor will always give you a different perspective of the truth.
Finally, a sponsor will listen to you. Even if you don’t chose to go through the steps or find a different recovery method, we suggest finding a mentor of sorts. The therapeutic benefits of simply talking about things, is undeniable. Dialogue and conversation is and always will be the foundation between people helping each other. When we openly talk about things, we learn to understand each other better. When we understand each other, we are better equipped to helping each other.
One addict or alcoholic helping another is truly the foundation between the steps and the 12 step programs. It is crucial. When we stop helping people, then we start to become infatuated with ourselves. Being stuck in self can lead to exhaustion. If I find myself thinking about myself too much, then I know it is time to reach out and find a way to carry the message. In reality, sponsorship probably helps the sponsor just as much as it helps the sponsee. When we lose sight of ourselves is when we really feel that we have a purpose.
My sponsor has been the most important relationship I have ever made in my recovery.
It is not very complicated. A sponsors biggest priority is to take you through the steps. The steps are what results in what the Big Book calls a “complete psychic change.” This should always come first.
But I am writing this so that I can share how having a sponsor has KEPT me sober, even long after I completed the steps. You need to find someone who is honest, who you trust. Your sponsor will give you a different perspective! That is something that is hard to come by. It is difficult to find people who love you enough to tell you things that you may not want to hear. Your sponsor already knows how to stay sober, and this is why he or she will have no problem telling you the truth. They already understand what it takes.
Sponsorship has been the beacon of my sobriety. Admittedly, I don’t go to a lot of meetings. I probably don’t get involved as much as I should. But if my sponsor tells me to do something – I do it. If he gives me a suggestion, I take it. I know in my heart that he would never tell me anything to hurt me, and everything he says to me is with my best interest in mind.
So if you don’t have a sponsor, get one. At least a mentor. Someone who you can rely on, to tell you the truth. It may save your life.