What Is An AA Sponsor and How Do You Find One?

Nov. 302023

The journey to recovery from alcohol addiction can be challenging and confusing, but you don't have to go through it alone. If you’ve attended meetings in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you’ve probably heard the term sponsor thrown around. While having a sponsor isn’t a strict requirement, studies have shown that having an AA sponsor leads to higher rates of abstinence from alcohol compared to those without one.

In this article, we’re going to introduce you to what an AA sponsor is, the key role they play in helping new members succeed through the 12 steps, and how you can find your own sponsor. 

What Is a Sponsor? 

AA members often have a sponsor to help them stay sober on their road to addiction recovery. An AA sponsor is typically someone who has been in recovery for an extended period of time (at least one year) and has a deep understanding of what it takes to successfully complete the 12-step program. Sponsors are more experienced than their sponsees, which allows them to share their experience firsthand, and how they continue to maintain sobriety. 

While an AA sponsor may serve as a mentor figure, providing helpful knowledge and guidance to a sponsee, sponsor-sponsee relationships are viewed as equal. Sponsors can get just as much out of the experience by helping another person. The bond that’s built between a sponsor and sponsee strengthens each other’s mission of sobriety, not just the one being sponsored.  

What Does a Sponsor Do? 

In AA, sponsors take on a supportive role to help sponsees navigate the 12 steps outlined in the program and to hold them accountable for their commitment to sobriety. Sponsors will likely become one of the most important emotional support systems a sponsee will have during their recovery.

There are many ways that a sponsor can support a sponsee during their journey. It will largely depend on the nature of each relationship. But there are some universal duties a sponsor might find themselves doing, such as the following: 

  • Attend 12-step meetings with their sponsee.
  • Help the sponsee understand the 12 steps and guide them through the process.
  • Share helpful AA literature like The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and the Big Book.
  • Introduce the sponsee to new support groups.
  • Maintain their own sobriety and lead by example.
  • Educate the sponsee on alcohol use disorder and how they have overcome it.
  • Pass the torch and encourage their sponsee to become a sponsor when they’re ready.

How to Find a Sponsor

Finding an AA sponsor can take time. It’s hard to find someone you feel comfortable sharing your deepest, most personal secrets with, and you’ll probably have a lot of questions for your sponsor to determine whether they’re a good fit for you.

The easiest way to meet potential sponsors is to join local group meetings. Sponsors are built into the very foundation of the AA model. The final step in the 12-step program is an invitation to become a sponsor, stating, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” 

If for any reason you’re not able to find a sponsor at a local AA meeting, try expanding your search. Look for other support groups in the surrounding area, NA meetings, and even online meetings. You can also seek advice from trusted members of the AA community.

Final Thoughts

AA sponsors serve as a vital support system, holding their sponsees accountable for their alcohol recovery. Sponsors are a key component in the AA model, helping new members maintain their sobriety, and in the process, reinforcing their own, forming a powerful feedback loop that has led to outstanding results. 

The fellowship and bonds created between sponsors and sponsees are the lifeblood of AA and continue to inspire sobriety and inner freedom for millions of people around the world. If you’re trying to stay sober from alcohol and would like support on your journey, visit our website, Waterstone Counseling Center.