Sponsors Get Your shit together

Are you in a 12 step program? If you are,  I hope you have a sponsor, and you sponsor others.

More and more when a newcomer asks someone to be their sponsor some of the responses are terrifying.

Here are some of the worst:

Are you willing to do whatever it takes?

I tell you what, go to 90 meetings in 90 days and call me every night at 8 pm and if you do and I believe you are ready I will be your sponsor.

I can’t sponsor yet I don’t have a year under my belt

Those are the perfect example of why our Fellowship’s success rate is so bad.

Imagine for a minute that instead of the disease of addiction you have cancer. You are fed up to here with this cancer, so you go to the doctor.

The doctor looks at you and says are you willing to do whatever it takes?

Then he says go to 90 support group meetings in 90 days and call me every night at 8 pm.  If you do that I will treat your cancer.

That would be crazy right? Well no more crazed than a sponsor who has the knowledge to deliver this poor suffering soul but instead they wanna to put the newcomer to the test.  The problem is that many newcomers might not live another 90 days.

Well, I’m not willing to risk the lives of people to test their willingness.  They are going to tell you that they are ready to do whatever it takes whether they are or not.

A sponsors job is to take newcomers or sponsees through the steps, do it. It’s  not about you.

I’m writing this for two reasons.

  1.  I heard Chris R. talking about this very thing, almost word for word.  I laughed because it was funny in a that’s insane,  kind of way.  Then it happens to me personally.

That leads me to the second reason,

2.  I have had the toughest time finding a decent sponsor.  Somehow I’ve made it a little over a year without the guidance of a real sponsor.  I started working the steps but hadn’t  made it past step three.

Now some of this or all of it is my fault.  After going through hell in the last six months I decided to buckle down and get me a real sponsor, you know the kind you can meet at a meeting or out for lunch.

To my astonishment right in front of me stood the sponsor Chris R. talked about.  At that moment I wanted to say look I don’t know if I have 90 days to me.

I had just had a year of hell on top of being clean for a year without a lick of recovery.  If you don’t know how that feels, it sucks.  There was no way I could wait another 90 days.  It was impossible.  At that moment I was closer to a relapse than ever.

I needed a sponsor right now.  Not in 90 days.  I planned to be done with the steps with any luck in 3o days.  I was prepared to focus, and I needed the solution, not a test.  The past year was the test of a lifetime already.

This is a pervasive thing in our fellowship, and it needs to stop.  Someone gave you the solution when you came into the rooms, and now it is up to you to pass it to those who come after you.  Chris R. says that as soon as you do the steps, you can start taking the next person through the steps.

You don’t have to be clean for X amount of time before you can sponsor or chair meetings.  Nowhere in the book does it give a timeline for these things.

If you are reading this and have worked the steps, please don’t do this to our newcomers.  If I hadn’t had a year already, I would have used that night.  Thankfully I asked another woman at the same meeting who was 6months clean, and she is a godsend.  I am so grateful.

We have to do better.

33 comments on “Sponsors Get Your Shit Together”

  1. My daughter went through same thing couldn’t find a good sponsor when she was in rehab. She had one but instead of going through the steps she would take her to get nails done and things like that really. So she went back to using never got through the steps. So sad

    • I just have to say…who ever wrote this or thinks this is wrong….apparently is just looking for excuses to keep drinking… stop blaming other people… it’s not a sponsor job to keep anyone else sober!! If someone wants to be sober they will do whatever it takes like they did to get high or drunk… stop making excuses and get over yourself already!!


    • I find it a little amusing that your “automatic statement” is blaming the lack of a good sponsor on the culprit behind your daughters continued drug use.
      First, I’ll say this….as an honest, open and willing women in or out of these rooms. Where have you found women you connected with and specifically set time out to cultivate that relationship??? For me, not once. So getting pedicures over small chat while trying to get connected to someone; actually sounds like of different and kind of right.
      3rd. Your daughters return to active addiction is the sole responsibility of ourselves. Her “lack of good sponsorship” Have nothing to do with you or your families.
      Lastly; I’m sorry your family is caught up in between this sick. sad and disdunctional reality…..

  2. Someone told my gf to stay clean for 30 days THEN she would sponsor her. WTF? If she could stay clean, she wouldn’t be in the mess she’s in!

  3. To my understanding a sponser is only suppose to guide you through 12 steps. Is it my place to talk to my sponcee about her behaviors or just focus on her being clean while practicing her behaviors.

    • Yes, there’s no point in working steps if you don’t live the spiritual principles found in those steps. The same addict will use again, we work steps so we will change. If they’re clean but living dirty, we call them out on it. Drugs are just a symptom of my disease and old behavior will take me out just as easily.

  4. If someone wants to stay clean and sober and they don’t like what one person says then go ask another person. There are millions of people living happy productive lives because of the 12 step programs. Most of these people are willing to help anyone who is also willing to help themselves. This thing works I am loving proof. If your daughter or son says the program didn’t keep them sober, the truth is they weren’t ready for the work they had to do for themselves. Nothing good comes easy, but this sober life is well worth every moment & effort put forth! Blessings to you and your families! You are in my prayers.

  5. The only requirement to be a sponsor is to have worked thru the steps and have a sponsor. Alot of the times when a potential sponor suggests going to meetings or asks if you ate willing to do whatever it takes it is simply just that a question. AA has had thousands of success stories. It really just comes down to being willing. If you are ready to stay sober and work the steps then you will work the steps! It is not a sponsors fault. This article really makes no sense…if you continue to do what you have always done then you are going to get what you have always got.

  6. I sponsor women and it’s a requirement they call me for x time before I will be their sponsor. Then we go through the book before we start steps. You won’t start steps with me until about a month into the relationship- if you’re diligent and knock the assignments out. It’s an exercise in willingness. If you’re not willing to call me every day and write on a chapter of the book, you’re not willing to write on steps. I know this from experience. I skipped a sponsee straight to steps since she was siting on an assignment, and she has yet to actually start her step 3 months later.

    My problem with this article is the victim playing. Nobody forced you to go a year clean without working steps. You made that choice. It’s misery being clean with no recovery, but you’re the only one to blame for that. And it’s about patience and that you don’t have all the answers. If you did, why would you need a sponsor? There’s a lot of “I know how it should go” close-mindedness and self-righteousness here.

  7. So someone who self describes as having no recovery lectures and rants? Maybe thats why she can’t find a sponsor. I specialized in sponsoring medicated and mentally ill folks and some you gotta cut loose.

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  9. Well it is not my approach, I know some women who use the “call me every day for 30 days and then I’ll be your sponsor” approach. Perhaps I could offer another perspective to what you have presented here. However what I also know about those phone calls in those 30 days, is that they are not just making a phone call and hanging up, that is when they are both getting to know about each other and their approach to Alcoholics Anonymous or whatever 12 step program they are involved in. It gives the person asking for a sponsor the opportunity to learn if this is going to be a good fit. How does this person give direction, what is their approach to the 12 step program, what are their expectations of someone that they are sponsoring. Is this going to work for me. Can I do this? It also gives the sponsor and opportunity to learn more about the person that is making the call. Is it someone that does follow directions? Are they willing to be of service in meetings? Is this a good fit for the sponsor? Sponsorship is a two-way street. It is not just for the person being sponsored. The sponsor also benefits from the experience. Just because this approach doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. We often sponsor the way we have been sponsored. It just means it’s a different approach and this person apparently was not the right sponsor for you. Aren’t you glad you learned that early on.

  10. I understand where you’re coming from. But maybe part of the title should read, “some sponsor’s.” It would be a better choice for what appears as a sensationalistic title. One that has the potential to feed the anti AA people out there who only write bad things about the program. 😊

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