5 Things to Consider When Choosing an AA Sponsor

by Kerry Nenn for Recovery.org

Who would make a good sponsor for you? How can you tell? What can you do to find out?

These are all great questions to ask. Finding the right sponsor can be a key part of your recovery process, so you’ll want to take some time and make the best choice for your sobriety.

Picking the Right Sponsor

When the time comes, the following are important factors you’ll want to consider when choosing your AA sponsor.

#1 Gender

For men and women in early recovery, getting into a new romantic relationship is not recommended…at least for the first year. The reasoning behind this guideline is simple: you’ll have enough going on with yourself and maintaining your sobriety post-rehab.

Combining the emotional ups and downs of a new relationship with your recovery can quickly create relapse triggers, ultimately setting you up for a relapse.

That’s why AA recommends choosing a sponsor of your own gender, which will help keep your focus exactly where it needs to be – on recovery.

#2 Key Qualifications

When you’re looking to find an AA sponsor, it helps to write down some questions before you speak to the potential candidates.

Can a potential sponsor answer yes to the following?

  • Have you worked the 12 Steps?
  • Do you have a sponsor?
  • Does your sponsor allow you to sponsor?

If he or she answers “no” to any of these three questions, they’re probably not the sponsor you’re looking for right now.

For someone to sponsor you, they need to have worked the steps themselves. If they don’t have a sponsor, or their sponsor is not recommending they sponsor others, there could be issues going on behind the scenes that would potentially inhibit the relationship.

#3 Personality

Here’s a look at two sponsor personality factors you’ll want to consider:

  • Are they enjoying life in recovery? A good sponsor experiences laughter and enjoyment in life. It’s not all sunshine, but some joy should be present. Do they smile? Laugh? Try visiting them at home. See what they are like with their family. This will give you a better idea of what things are really like to know if they will be a good sponsor.
  • Can you relate to them? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s actually a good thing if you can’t. You don’t always need a sponsor you can completely relate to….you need someone who has gotten past where you are. It’s hard for someone to help you get to the other side if they have never left your shore.

#4 Number of Sponsees

How many sponsees does your potential sponsor already have? If they have several, this probably indicates they are a good sponsor. However, too many sponsees can spread them thin and make the relationship less effective.

That’s not to say you need a sponsor who pledges to be available to you and only you 24-hours a day, focusing every ounce of his or her time on you and your sobriety…those are promises that no one can humanly keep. However, you do want to discuss your potential sponsor’s realistic availability and then set up some communication ground rules.

#5 Service Involvement

Is this person going out of their way for others? Are they welcoming to newcomers? Do they volunteer in any way?

Someone who is active in service work is good sponsor material. Giving back and helping others tends to provide recovering addicts with a sense of peace and pleasure – something that was totally missing during active addiction. If your potential sponsor truly enjoys giving back and seeing others succeed in sobriety, that’s a good sign.

Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules to sponsorship. Every person and situation is unique. However, considering these key factors will help to provide a solid and sober foundation as you choose an AA sponsor.

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