One of the biggest advantages of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program is that it is a safe space where individuals can talk about their addiction

One of the biggest advantages of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program is that it is a safe space where individuals can talk about their addiction

Who is a sponsor? A sponsor is a person who has completed the 12 Steps in a recovery program and who usually takes on the responsibility of helping another individual in recovery to do the same. There are different recovery programs using the 12 Step method and they define the role of a sponsor in different ways.

Role of a Sponsor

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is perhaps the most well known for their 12 Step and sponsor program. In AA, a sponsor’s main purpose is to help an individual to stay sober, and sponsors are encouraged to do ‘everything possible within, limits of personal experience and knowledge’ to ensure that that happens.

In Narcotics Anonymous (NA), sponsors are ‘willing to build a special, supportive, one on one relationship’ with individuals new to recovery and to the group, who want to quit their drug addiction.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) defines their sponsorship more loosely, and their responsibilities are informal and unwritten. It’s more about older and experienced members helping one another, either in a group setting or one on one.

What is 12 Step Sponsorship?

This depends largely on the individual’s interpretation, and what a sponsor means to them. To different people a sponsor can be a coach, a confidante, a guide, a leader. To some a sponsor becomes almost like a mentor, a teacher or even a parental figure. The fact is, that a sponsor-sponsee relationship is unique to the people who create it, but trust is at the heart of it. An individual new to recovery should be able to confide their darkest moments to their sponsor without any fear of being judged. And this kind of soul baring makes people closer. But does that mean an individual can or should be friends with their sponsor?

Sponsorship and Friendship

It is not necessary for individuals to be friends with their sponsors. Like any relationship or friendship, bonding with one’s sponsor appears to be based on personal compatibility. It is also important to remember that friendship could get in the way of the point on sponsorship, which is completing the 12 steps. So is friendship with one’s sponsor ever appropriate?

That’s hard to say. As mentioned before, friendship is spontaneous, a kinship that arises from a mutual affinity. Sponsorship is a more direct relationship, as the individual is working with the sponsor to accomplish something, and relying on the sponsor when roadblocks come up. Ultimately, as long as the sponsor helps the individual to progress on their path of recovery, the relationship is helpful, whether or not the sponsor becomes a friend.

At Blueprints for Recovery we can tailor make programs to help you or a loved one with addiction. Our highly trained staff can support you or your loved one to begin your journey of recovery.


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