What to Look for in an AA Sponsor

Getting a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the first steps to getting on track with the 12-step program. An AA sponsor will provide key support, advice, and information to those who are new to the program. They will help you through the tough beginning of getting sober, and they’ll be a great support throughout your sober life.

But picking the right sponsor can be difficult. You want someone who will really be there for you and someone who you get along with. How can you know whether someone is going to be a good sponsor for you?

We’ve compiled a list of qualities that you should look for in a person before making them your sponsor.

A Good AA Sponsor Is a Sober Sponsor

This might be a no-brainer, but it’s important. You should have a sponsor who is sober and has been sober for a good while. You want to be able to approach this person for advice and for help on your shared experience of getting sober.

A person who is sober and has been for a long time will be stable and trustworthy to guide you through the difficult process of getting sober or getting clean. Someone who isn’t stable and sober or someone who has not been sober for very long will not be as good of a support system as someone with more experience and time with sobriety.

If you’re struggling with sobriety, an AA sponsor who is sober can and will help you. You can also consider going to a Pennsylvania rehab center if you feel you need extra help.

They’ve Worked Through All the Steps

This goes back to picking a sponsor who has been sober for a significant amount of time. Picking an AA sponsor who has been sober for a while and who has gone through all 12 steps of the program will give you the best chance at having proper support.

A sponsor who has worked all the steps will be able to give you help, support, and advice about each one of those steps. Someone who has not worked all of the steps won’t be able to help you with those steps when you reach them.

Pick someone who knows the program like the back of their hand and has been through it all themselves.

You Shouldn’t Be Attracted to Your Sponsor

During your first year in the program, entering romantic and/or sexual relationships is something you are supposed to avoid. This can distract you from what should be your main focus: getting sober.

Break-ups and relationship problems can also trigger a relapse. This is why most people recommend picking a sponsor who is the same gender as you to avoid any potential attraction, romantic or sexual, towards them. However, this would be an issue for those who are attracted to people of the same gender, like people who identify as gay or bisexual.

To make this tip broader: you should choose a sponsor who you are not attracted to. For example, if you’re a gay man, a female sponsor might be your best bet. If you’re bisexual, choose someone you know you are not attracted to in order to avoid developing any romantic or sexual feelings.

You Get Along

Your sponsor is someone you should be able to trust and speak with openly. Having a sponsor you don’t like or who you don’t get along with can hinder your relationship with them.

If you aren’t comfortable speaking with them, or you are always dreading speaking with them, that’s a problem. You need a sponsor who you can relate to and who you want to speak with about any and all of your struggles and concerns.

They Can Be Honest With You

While you do want to get along with your sponsor, you also want someone who is going to be honest with you. Getting sober can be a hard and messy process. You want a sponsor who isn’t afraid to give you a reality check or be completely honest with you.

If you’re messing up or going back down a dangerous path, you need a sponsor who will call you out and help you get back on the right path. An AA sponsor who won’t say something or is too wishy-washy to confront you isn’t a good choice. You need a sponsor who can be completely honest with you about your life and your choices.

They Have Enough Time

You could find the perfect person for you. You relate to them, you can speak with them comfortably and honestly, and they’ve been sober for years.

But if they don’t have enough time to dedicate to you, then even the some of the best, most qualified people won’t work out. As a newcomer, you need an AA sponsor who is going to be there for you throughout the week at any and all times.

Struggles with relapse and addiction don’t follow a meeting schedule. You could be close to taking a drink at 1 am and need to call your sponsor. Will they be able to answer the phone? Will they be able to dedicate enough time and energy to help you through this difficult and confusing time?

Many sponsors have multiple sponsees. Does the person your considering already have many people they’re sponsoring? Will they have enough time to dedicate to you individually?

Ask yourself these questions while choosing a sponsor. You need an AA sponsor who will have enough time to dedicate to you personally so you can really get what you need from them.

Finding the Best AA Sponsor for You

Deciding to get sober is one of the biggest positive steps forward you can make. Once you’ve made that decision, getting a sponsor can help keep you moving in that positive direction towards sobriety.

Finding the right sponsor for you can be hard. But once you find the one who is right for you, it will all be worth it.

We know how hard it can be to find the right people to help you out when you’re struggling with addiction. We can help you find rehabilitation resources and more on our website.