Welcome to SAL Sponsorship
For newcomers to recovery, talk of sponsorship can feel overwhelming and confusing.
- What is a sponsor?
- Why would I need to work with one?
- How do I get one?
A sponsor is an individual who has been practicing recovery long enough to have strength, hope, and experience to help newcomers on their pathway of healing.
A sponsor’s role is to facilitate the recovery of a newcomer by assisting them one-on-one as they learn to surrender, set boundaries, and work the Steps.
The primary function of the sponsor is to point the sponsee back to his or her Higher Power.
The sponsor does not check up on the sponsee. It is up to the sponsee to find a sponsor, reach out to the sponsor, and take accountability for their own recovery. The sponsor can provide valuable guidance and empathy to the newcomer who is coming out of the darkness of isolation. The sponsor can also provide suggestions to guide the sponsee upon a clear path to work the steps and progress in recovery.
Ultimately, the sponsorship relationship becomes a gift to both the sponsor and the sponsee as they share their journey of recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sponsorship
Q: Why do I need a sponsor?
A: Nobody can effectively work the program alone. “To recover, I had to begin coming out of isolation and connect with people.” (The White Book, p 163) A sponsor is someone you can turn to who has made a commitment to listen to you, respect your need for confidentiality, and can offer a different perspective on your situation without bias and with love. A sponsor will help you navigate the steps of the program giving suggestions from their own experience.
Q: How do I choose a sponsor?
A: Take some time and turn to your Higher Power for this. Talk to people and notice how you feel when talking to them. Ask someone you feel comfortable with (who is on the sponsor list). Perhaps it’s someone whose shares resonate with you. Be aware that there will never be ‘a perfect sponsor’ and it’s not uncommon for people to switch sponsors while working the program.
Q: It’s hard for me to call someone. What if I am bothering my sponsor?
A: A sponsor will have their own boundaries about communication with sponsees. They likely won’t answer if they can’t talk. Learning to be vulnerable and reach out is part of the program and will be helpful to your healing. It takes courage to take this step each time, but a sponsor is a safe person. Try to remember that the call you make is not about your sponsor, it’s about you and your trust of your Higher Power and the program in your life.
Q: What kinds of things would I call my sponsor about?
- Anytime you feel you are in danger of acting out or losing your sobriety.
- When you need help knowing how to work the SAL 12 step program.
- When you need someone to listen to or help you through the surrender process.
- When you are in a crisis situation with your emotions and need help seeing things from a recovery perspective.
- When you are triggered and need help moving through the emotions associated with the trigger.
- When you have questions about your recovery.
Q: My sponsor is basically a stranger. How do I build trust with my sponsor?
A: Be honest and vulnerable with your sponsor and trust will develop quickly. You will see trust grow as your Higher Power guides you through your sponsor. Try what they suggest but be aware that your recovery will look different than theirs.
Q: How often is it okay to call my sponsor? Should I have a regular check-in time?
A: This (like most things) will vary for different people. Your sponsor will let you know how best to communicate with them. If you feel you would like more contact with your sponsor, tell them and find something that works for both of you.
Q: Is my sponsor the only person I should be talking to?
A: It is suggested that you have a network of support people who are also working recovery. A sponsor will not always be available when you need to talk to someone.
Q: How does a sponsor help me work the steps?
A: A sponsor will point you to your Higher Power through working the steps. A good sponsor will lovingly help you be aware of the problem of too much “venting”–using them as a crutch for emotional help without working the steps. Your sponsor will help you be accountable for your own recovery goals. They will tell you how they work the steps and you can use their input for your own work.
For some people, it has worked well to schedule a weekly check-in for updates on step work. Then, during the week, the sponsee makes calls to surrender triggers and reach out in times of difficulty as needed. The weekly check-in can help to establish accountability for progress in step work.
Q: Am I ready to be a sponsor?
A: Becoming a sponsor is a personal decision, but if you have met the SAL requirements for sponsorship, it is time for you to consider it seriously. These requirements include:
- having completed Steps 1-3 and actively working Step 4
- having regularly attended at least 6 months of SAL meetings
- have been working with your own SAL sponsor for at least 6 months
If you have completed through Step 5, we strongly encourage you to try sponsorship. You have strength, hope, and experience that others need. Few of us ever feel ‘totally ready’ to be a sponsor. Remember that you need not be perfect. Being a sponsor is an important part of working the steps and will help you progress in your own recovery.
Q: I have a problem with a sponsee, what should I do?
A: Discuss boundaries with your own sponsor for ideas. The problem may be a simple boundary issue, or it may be that the relationship has become unhealthy and a change in sponsor is needed.