One of the most difficult decisions for people in alcohol recovery programs is giving up the stubborn self-pride that tells them they can “do it alone.” The notion of having a sponsor, which is a valued part of Alcoholics Anonymous, often makes them fearful or resentful. They may be willing to work the 12 Steps, albeit reluctantly, but draw the line at having an AA sponsor. Because direction of another person who has experienced alcohol addiction and knows the roller coaster of recovery makes a difference, it is important to answer the question: What is an AA sponsor?
Simply put, an AA sponsor is someone who has accumulated some years in the program and who can offer spiritual guidance. Balanced recovery includes spiritual and emotional growth, as well as lifestyle changes. It is much more than “white-knuckle” sobriety, which means putting down the alcohol but making no attempt to change one’s thinking and behavior. The person who understands the struggle of recovery best is someone who has accomplished it and who continues to focus on a spiritual way of living.
Experience, strength and hope
An AA sponsor is someone who shares experience, strength and hope with a newcomer. Most people choose their sponsors after listening to the sharing in meetings. When they hear someone whose story is similar or who is truly experiencing the joy of living, they may ask that person to sponsor them. The AA sponsor serves as a spiritual guide, listening and making suggestions.
Following the guidance of a sponsor requires trust, and the steps of recovery deal with issues of character – self-worth, honesty, reliability, and compassion. These are spiritual traits, and the AA sponsor is a spiritual guide. AA sponsorship does not involve any particular religious belief, nor is it linked to any denomination. Developing spiritual strength improves the chances of living a sober life without relapse. Many failed attempts at trying to stay sober without the help of an AA sponsor is enough to convince most people to seek the guidance of someone who can give clear-cut direction.