The sponsor-sponsee relationship in 12-step recovery is one of the key components in the process of maintaining long-term sobriety. Initially coined in the early years of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), the sponsor has the single purpose of helping the sponsee recover from the addiction and compulsive behavior that brought the sufferer into 12-step work, which in turn helps the sponsor recover.
According to Narcotics Anonymous, a sponsor’s role is not that of a legal adviser, a banker, a parent, a marriage counselor, or a social worker. Nor is a sponsor a therapist offering some sort of professional advice. A sponsor is simply another addict in recovery who is willing to share his or her experience, strength and hope in the journey through the Twelve Steps.
In the A.A. approved Questions and Answers on Sponsorship, sponsor and sponsee meet as equals, just as Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the founders of AA, did. When we begin to attend A.A. meetings, we may feel confused and sick and apprehensive. Although people at meetings respond to our questions willingly, that alone isn’t enough. Many other questions occur to us between meetings; we find that we need constant, close support as we begin learning how to “live sober.” So we select an A.A. member with whom we can feel comfortable, someone with whom we can talk freely and confidentially, and we ask that person to be our sponsor.
Finding freedom from an addiction takes hard work, but recovery is possible. You don’t have to do it alone.