Prevent Recovery Relapse by Being a Sponsor
Anyone who has had to recover from an addiction knows the intense amount of effort it takes to get clean. Even then, recovery from an addiction is a life-long process, and the struggle to stay clean can be a daily struggle. There are many follow-up programs that people can participate in to maintain their sobriety, but perhaps one of the most effective methods at maintaining long-term recovery is recovery sponsorship — being a sponsor to someone who has just entered the recovery phase and needs a little more than self-dependence to keep it going.
Sponsorship is for those who have been in recovery for some time and know well about the dos and don’ts of maintaining sobriety. You will most likely find the best pool of candidates to be your sponsor from going to 12-step meetings for alcohol or drugs. These people have faced the same demons that you have. They are at these meetings to keep themselves from falling back into their embrace.
Once you have established solid ground in sobriety, someone may approach you and ask you to be their sponsor. If you feel you are strong enough for the task, it can be a great reinforcing exercise for yourself. You will revisit the beginnings of your sobriety and serve to strengthen the things you have learned that have helped you to stay sober yourself.
Being A Sponsor
Being a sponsor is not about making a new friendship. It is about acting as a mentor and guiding someone through tough times using the tools you have learned that have always helped you. It is best if you sponsor someone of the same sex, to keep romantic relationships from occurring, which can sometimes lead to relapse for both involved.
Make sure you have worked all of the 12 steps of your program yourself, and make it a priority that the person you are sponsoring is committed to working the 12 steps themselves, and is actively doing it. As a sponsor, you need to be willing to tell someone the truth they don’t want to hear. This is why it is important not to establish a friendship or other relationship because it will make it harder for you to be a good sponsor and say what needs saying, even if it might hurt.
There is a lot of literature related to the 12 steps. Make sure you are familiar with it, so you can direct your “sponsee” to something tangible that they can read for themselves and keep on hand to refer to when they feel they need it. It is good for you to keep up on the literature for yourself as well. There is always something new being published, and by re-absorbing the literature that help you get sober initially, you can only reinforce your own determination to stay sober.
Many newly recovered addicts are shy about being in 12-step meetings, maybe because they are embarrassed that they need help. As a sponsor, it is your job to encourage your sponsee to attend different types of meetings in different locations. It is a great way for them to find the meeting in which they feel most comfortable and will most likely keep returning to, and they will gain a greater span of experiences from meeting many different members, perhaps someone who has a story to tell much like their own.
Try to make yourself as available as possible to answer any questions your sponsee may have about how the program works to help maintain sobriety and what they should expect. You can even act as a liaison, if they think it is appropriate, between your sponsee and their friends and family by explaining how the sponsorship program works to help maintain sobriety.
In being a sponsor, you will revisit some of the strongest ties that have kept you sober. You will most likely rework the 12 steps anew with your sponsee, reinforcing the work you did yourself when you needed it most.
Being a sponsor to someone in recovery is a win-win situation for both parties.