What’s a Sponsor in Recovery and What are the Benefits of Having One?

What’s a Sponsor in Recovery and What are the Benefits of Having One?

What’s a Sponsor do for Addiction Recovery?

If you’ve done any reading about addiction recovery, you’ve probably run across the idea of sponsors.

These are especially popular in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, where the system is built to work with the help of a sponsor.

But what’s a sponsor, and what do they do?

A sponsor can be many things and can be crucial to your recovery.

From helping you find the resources you need to giving you home and motivation when you most need it, they can make your recovery easier and more successful.

Read on to learn more about what a sponsor is and how they can help you in recovery.

What's a Sponsor - Hand Writing Journey To Recovery with a marker over transparent board. Using a sponsor after treatment increases your odds to stay sober.
Hand Writing Journey To Recovery with a marker over transparent board

What’s a Sponsor?

Before we dive into all the benefits a sponsor can bring, let’s talk about what a rehab sponsor is. A sponsor can be many things: guide, cheerleader, confidant, accountability partner, and more.

They’re your mentor on the journey to sobriety, someone who has gone down that road before you and can help you along the way.

When you have questions about the recovery process, you can ask your sponsor. If an issue that you don’t feel comfortable discussing in a group comes up, you can talk to your sponsor about it.

When you’re tempted to relapse, you can call them and help find a different, healthier way to deal with what you’re feeling.

What Is a Sponsor Not?

There are a few things, however, that a sponsor is not. For that relationship to work well, there have to be a few boundaries drawn.

For one thing, a sponsor is not a spouse, romantic partner, or longtime friend; to successfully work with you, your sponsor needs to have a degree of separation from your life.

Your sponsor is also not your therapist, although you should work with a therapist during your recovery.

A therapist is there to help you get to the root of your problems and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

Your sponsor is there to help you stick to those new coping mechanisms and implement the tools you’ve learned in therapy in your life.

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How to Be a Sponsored

There are a few things you can do as someone who is sponsored to make sure you get the most out of the relationship with your sponsor.

For one thing, always show up to meetings with your sponsor.

If you’re going to beat addiction, you need to make it a priority in your life, and committing to showing up to meetings with your sponsor is a good way to do that.

Make sure to talk to your sponsor about their boundaries. Yes, they are there to help you when you need it, but they have to live their own life, too.

Ask them what times are okay to call, what to do during the times they can’t take calls, and what subjects they prefer to keep off-limits.

Get Shared Experience

Talking about addiction with someone who hasn’t experienced it can be difficult.

You may worry that they’re judging you, and even if they aren’t, there are things about that experience that they just can’t understand.

Having a sponsor who has been down the same road you have can help to fill that gap.

Talking about traumatic experiences with someone who understands can be very helpful, and your sponsor can provide you with that opportunity.

They know first-hand what it’s like to be an addict and just how challenging recovery can be. When they tell you you’re doing great, you can trust them, because they know the challenges you’re overcoming.

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Share Hope

In addition to sharing experiences, your sponsor can also share hope with you.

Yes, they’ve been down the same road as you, but they’re also further along the path.

They’re living proof that there is a way through and that things will get better with time.

It’s easy to say that things will improve, but when you’re fighting your way through withdrawal or recovery, you can’t always see that.

Your sponsor is living, tangible evidence that yes, things are hard right now, but they do get better. They can tell you when things will start looking uphill and keep you motivated to keep fighting.

Get Sympathy

Sometimes, however, what you need to hear isn’t, “Things will get better soon.”

Sometimes, where you are is so miserable that you just need someone to acknowledge that misery. Your sponsor can do that, too, and with more authority than anyone else in your life.

Your sponsor has fought the same fights and been through the same things you have. They know how hard recovery can be, and they can sympathize with you.

Just having someone acknowledge and validate the things you’re struggling with can make them easier to deal with, somehow.

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Find Accountability

During those tough times, you may be tempted to give up on the fight. Relapse is common among addicts precisely because of this reason.

Previously, drugs have been how you coped with bad times, and now you’re not only coping with the struggles of life, but also the challenges of recovery, and all without your usual coping mechanism.

Your sponsor can help keep you on the straight and narrow and give you a reason not to relapse.

Just knowing that someone will be checking in on you, will be disappointed if you fall off the wagon, and will be proud of you if you persevere can be enough to keep you going.

It’s also a lot harder to ignore the negative consequences of giving in to your addiction if you have to tell someone about it later.

Get Resources

No one goes through recovery alone; it’s too much of a struggle, and you need too much support.

A lot of that support may come from your loved ones, your recovery group, and your sponsor. But you may need additional resources and support outside of those people.

Your sponsor can help you find the resources you need to stay sober. They’re familiar with the rehab system and they know what options you have available to you.

They may be able to get you everything from books to read to inspire you to stay sober to contact information for doctors who have experience working with addicts.

What's a Sponsor - A group is taking karate lessons. In recovery it is recommended you find hobbies to keep yourself busy.
A group is taking karate lessons.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

When you’re in recovery, stepping outside your comfort zone is very important. For too long, your comfort zone has been taking refuge in drugs, hiding from something in your life.

Now that you’re getting sober, you need to push your boundaries and find new ways to handle the bad things that come up in your life.

Your sponsor can help you to push outside of that comfortable cocoon.

They may be able to suggest new hobbies that can fill the hole in your life that drugs used to fill, or they may encourage you to go to therapy and start confronting challenging ideas about your life.

They can push you to be the best possible version of yourself so your recovery becomes a quest for self-improvement.

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Get Motivation

There are going to be times on your journey to sobriety when you feel like quitting.

You’re going to feel like you don’t have anything left to fight with, like you’re fighting a losing battle that’s never going to stop.

You’re going to want to give up, give in, and let your addiction wrest back control of your life.

During these times, your sponsor is there to stand beside you and give you the motivation to keep fighting. They’ll remind you why you quit in the first place and help you see how far you’ve come.

They’ll help you see the amazing things sobriety has brought to your life and get you back on your feet, ready to keep going into another day.

Avoid Pitfalls

Because your sponsor has been down this road already, they know what the recovery pitfalls are.

These are the things that tempt you and make relapse more likely. Knowing what these dangers are before you pass them can help you stay in recovery.

Your sponsor may recommend that you get involved in an activity that fills up your evenings so you don’t find yourself at loose ends. They may recommend avoiding certain things or sending out certain messages to your family before gatherings so you minimize temptations.

They may also know when things are likely to get hard and give you resources to deal with those bad times.

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Find a Sponsor

Knowing the answer to the question, “What’s a sponsor?” can help you have a more successful recovery.

Your sponsor is there to cheer you on and give you a preview of what’s coming down the road. They can get you the resources you need, provide motivation when it’s lacking, and keep you accountable through your recovery journey.

If you’d like to start on your road to sobriety, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Centers.

We have programs for everyone from alcoholics to heroin addicts, and we can help you find the support you need.

Contact us today to start on your road to recovery!