In 12-Step programs, sponsors are those who facilitate the process of recovery; they live a sober lifestyle, they’re an active member of 12-Step fellowship and they must have completed the 12-Steps successfully. Each sponsorship is different depending on the nature of the relationship, but generally sponsors will answer questions you may have about recovery, may provide feedback on your progress and may provide you with moral support to help you along the way. If you’re thinking about joining a 12-Step program, you may be wondering a bit more about sponsorship and how this could benefit you. It’s normal to feel hesitant – after all, it’s a new process. The good news, however, is that, if done right, sponsorship can greatly improve your chances of recovery. Here’s how:
A 2016 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence assessed 302 young adults enrolled in residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. The participants were assessed at 3, 6 and 12 months intervals, and it was noted whether they had a sponsor throughout this time or not – as well as some other factors of their recovery. This is what they found:
- Participants who had a sponsor and maintained contact with them (as well as formed a good connection) were found to have greater 12-Step participation and abstinence, on average.
Ultimately, it seems that if you’re able to form a strong relationship with your sponsor and maintain communication with them, you’re much more likely to succeed – and it’s because you have someone who genuinely supports your recovery. Now, you may be wondering – “How exactly do I form a close relationship with a sponsor?” Just like any professional relationship, it takes time and effort.
The Fix noted in 2016 that you have to find a sponsor with a similar approach to recovery as yourself. It is recommended to have a sponsor with at least 1-year of continuous sobriety, and to be of the same sex as you. Get to know a person before you officially ask them to be your sponsor, that way you feel confident moving forward. Learn about your sponsor, ask them questions and make sure it is clear – on both ends – what the expectations are for the relationship.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.