Apr 8, 2013 | By Tim Stoddart

What is a Sponsor? – Why and How to Get a Sponsor

12 Step Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step programs are based heavily on tradition, because those traditions work. One of the most important traditions in AA is sponsorship (while sponsorship exists in other programs, too, we’ll use AA in this article for simplification). It is recommended that everyone in AA get a sponsor, but many newcomers to the program will ask the question, “What is a sponsor?”


What is a Sponsor?

In its official literature, AA describes a sponsor as “one person to turn to without embarrassment when doubts, questions, or problems linked to alcoholism arise.” A sponsor is also described as an “understanding, sympathetic friend.” Essentially, a sponsor is a mentor. A sponsor is someone who has significant experience in AA and sobriety and helps mentor someone with less experience, especially when that person is a newcomer.
There are no official rules on who can be a sponsor; sponsorship in AA is very informal. As a general guideline, however, it’s recommended that a sponsor have at least one-two years of sobriety. Some recommend that a sponsor have at least five years of sobriety. Sponsors should be confident in their sobriety, have a positive attitude, and have the time and willingness to dedicate themselves to being a mentor.

Why Should You Get a Sponsor?

When you’re a newcomer to AA, there is a lot to learn about sobriety and how AA works. It can be overwhelming at first. You should get a sponsor so you have one person that you can count on to help you get adjusted to AA and sober living. You’ll undoubtedly have questions and concerns, and with a sponsor, you can address those issues on an individual basis. Sponsors can be particularly helpful for people who are struggling with the idea of spirituality. You shouldn’t look for a sponsor to give you answers; a sponsor should help you find your own answers.

Working the Steps

When AA members reach the 12th step, “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,” sponsorship is considered a way to carry the message and help others. A sponsor can offer support as you go through the 12 Steps by helping you to understand the Steps and offering their own experiences as guidance.

How Can You Get a Sponsor?

The most common way to find a sponsor is through attending AA meetings. Members of AA usually try to reach out to newcomers by introducing themselves and offering their phone numbers for support. Someone might offer to be your “temporary sponsor” so that you have one person to count on immediately until you find a more permanent sponsor. Some groups have lists of members who are willing to be sponsors. As you go to meetings, look for active members of AA who you think you might be compatible with, and ask them if they will sponsor you. Or, reach out to any member of AA and ask if they can recommend a sponsor. Also, remember that if it turns out you’re not compatible with your sponsor, you can get a new one.

11 responses to “What is a Sponsor? – Why and How to Get a Sponsor

  • Nirbernjur shabibah

    10 years ago

    I would like 2 get a sponsor to. I am a ugandan from Africa and i dont have tuition fees and clothin i will be grateful if my request is considered

  • This site has great content – but why does the mobile layout suck so badly? It’s a pain in the ass to read on my iPhone (which is where I do most my browsing)

    There’s a giant banner always eating up the top 1/3rd of the screen about calling for a treatment consolation, ads pop-up from which you can’t escape, etc….

    This site could rival thefix.com if they put a little work into the overall design and especially the mobile layout (the desktop version. Isn’t great either)

    • Tim Stoddart

      9 years ago

      All true… I have been working on a redesign for some time now. It is coming early 2016. We appreciate you!

  • I really appreciated your article about how and why to get a sponsor. I have been thinking about the subject and changing sponsors. The article helped me understand why I want to make the change.
    Thank you and happy holidays! ????????????

  • I am in TANZANIA, working as a chairperson in Hope Relief Foundation the NGo supporting addicted youth In Tanga TANZANIA. We have 30 addicted youth and some of them living positively with HIV, please share with me how to get sponsors all over the World, the financial by the government is so limited and unreliable in nature

  • Am a girl from Kenya 15 years of age I would like somebody to sponser me and take me to New York to EF academy.

  • Randall Rudolph

    7 years ago

    My Name is Randall Rudolph and I was attending meetings regularly when I first got out of Jail in March for a DWI and the meetings helped A great deal but with working a full time job, being a full time student I found myself unable to attend meetings as much as possible but my AA Support group I talk to daily keep encourage me to get a sponsor and I don’t know how to go about doing that if I’m not attending the same group each time I go to a meeting and I think a sponsor would be a good thing for me in helping my growth and staying sober and I just wanted some advice on how I can go about getting myself a sponsor, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Randall Rudolph

  • Hi , I need help and I don’t know why I think anyone will actually help me cuz all of my life no body ever really gave any concern about me. I don’t wish for pity or empathy but I’m addicted to meth ,I’m 25 and a hooker. I feel like a disappointment to my parents loved ones and God. I have been there and done that . Asked screamed prayed pleased for someone to help me. I’ve been addicted for 5 years .I see what this drug does to me but I’m in such denial. But I do not have alot of money not do I even have insurance.but I for the first time in my life feel like I have to reach out to someone any one out there who can help me. Because I might die if I don’t find the way back to where I left myself 5 years ago.

  • kate kekiconco

    7 years ago


  • Atukwatse Shinah

    6 years ago

    I and my sister are looking a good Samaritans to help us pay our school fees. I’m 14 years and in S.2 , my sister is 11 years and in P.6 . We’re kindly requesting for sponsorship around the world. We’re from Uganda Africa and we believe that without education, we can’t see the light of the day. Thank you.

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