Typically, when a person is working the 12-steps, whether that’s in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or another 12-step program, he or she requires the guidance of a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has more sobriety or experience in addiction recovery and who can provide assistance to someone who is in their early recovery. This person typically also has experience in working each step of the 12-step program and so can act like a mentor for those new to sobriety. However, like all relationships, there are situations in which the sponsee-sponsor relationship must come to an end.
Sometimes, this relationship must end for very practical and unexpected reasons. For example:
- Either the sponsor or the sponsee move out of the area.
- The sponsor might be too busy with personal responsibilities and may not be able to provide the level of support a new sponsee needs.
- The sponsor might have too many other sponsees to take on someone else.
- The sponsee might be hesitant about their sobriety and about taking on a sponsor.
However, at other times, it might not be so cut and dry. The relationship might start off well but later present some issues. Often, it is these situations that can be difficult, especially for a newly recovering addict.
- The sponsor might relapse, which might have a negative effect on the sponsee.
- An attraction might develop between the sponsor and the sponsee, which might muddy the sponsorship. In this case, the sponsee may have to find a new sponsor.
- There might not be the right level of rapport between the sponsor and sponsee.
- The sponsee and sponsor may not get along.
- The sponsor may not be what the sponsee had hoped for.
- If there is a lack of trust in the relationship, the sponsee may not be able to see the sponsor as someone to emulate or someone to look up to.
Options to Consider to Find a New Sponsor in Addiction Recovery
- Go to different AA or NA meeting.
- Find out if your church has 12-step meetings and look for a sponsor there.
- Look for online meetings. You and a sponsor can meet via phone or Skype.
- Look for another sponsor in the same sober community you found your first one.
However, remember that sometimes you might not like a sponsor because they are challenging you – in a good way. If you don’t like the way you are being challenged to grow, you might not be ready for sobriety. Also, it’s not a good idea to switch sponsors because you want a more popular or more attractive sponsor.
Certainly, there are many valid reasons to need or want a new sponsor, but make sure that you’re not avoiding or denying yourself anything. It’s good to stay proactive in addiction recovery and occasionally getting a different sponsor might be the way to do that.