Getting a sponsor in AA is one of the great unwritten rules of recovery. The funny thing about unwritten rules, most people abide by them more than formal rules. In Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the keys to sobriety through the 12 steps is the unwritten rule: Get a sponsor.
Unwritten rules are funny things. In baseball, an unwritten rule is if a pitcher hits a teammate with a pitch, one of the other team’s players is going to get pegged during their next at-bat. Anyone who has played organized baseball, or follows a team closely, knows this rule (even if it seems ridiculous to a non-insider).
Getting a sponsor isn’t ridiculous though. In fact, the opposite is true; getting a sponsor in AA is nearly synonymous with the 12-steps. What’s interesting, though, is that the 12 steps nor the Big Book mention sponsorship explicitly, even though both provide detailed instructions on nearly every other aspect of recovery.
Our Tips For Finding A Sponsor
To help you out, here are five tips to help you find a sponsor in AA:
1. Go to meetings
Not to state the obvious, but the place to find an AA sponsor happens to be in AA meetings. So hit some meetings. A lot of them! And go to different types of meetings. Go to “newcomer meetings”, book studies, step studies, morning meetings, noon meetings, and night meetings. A sponsor should be someone who takes their recovery seriously, and one of the lowest thresholds to find that in someone, is to meet them at a meeting.
To find a list of meetings in your area, AA provides up-to-date meeting schedules on their website.
2. Listen for the similarities
One of the most apropos isms in AA might be this one: “there’s a wrench for every nut.” Many alcoholics suffer from what the rooms call terminal uniqueness, where someone thinks his or her situation is unlike anyone else’s. For alcoholics, this type of thinking can keep us from accepting that we’re alcoholics (instead of victims of bad luck and unfair situations).
Next time you’re in a meeting, listen for the similarities and try to identify with whoever is speaking. When you hear someone who speaks to your soul, shakes you up, and inspires you with the hope that you, too, can recover, that person just might be your future sponsor.
3. Raise your hand
Ask for help. Share at meetings and let everyone in the meeting know that you are serious about your recovery and be honest about how you feel. People aren’t mind-readers, so most need to be alerted that someone is struggling. If you’re in a healthy AA meeting, a swarm (or a couple of men or women who have a solid hold on their recovery), will come up to you after the meeting and help you find a sponsor.
4. Pray and meditate
Even if you don’t yet believe in God or a higher power (yet), the act of positive prayer doesn’t just demonstrate faith, it strengthens emotional health, like helping to reduce anxiety and providing social support.
And like many things in the spiritual realm, the tremendous things that come from prayer are often unexplainable and work out better than we could have planned ourselves. If nothing else, prayer will help you focus your energy and mind on what’s most important – recovery and finding a sponsor to help take you through the steps of AA.
5. Take a chance
Ask someone to sponsor you. You have nothing to lose, and many rehabs make this a requirement for their patients.
If you’re serious about getting a sponsor, and you’ve identified 2-3 people (usually men sponsor men and women sponsor women), it’s time to take a chance and ask one of them to sponsor you.
It can feel weirdly intimate asking someone to be a sponsor (almost like asking someone out on a date). But, if you’ve asked someone whose program you admire, and you’ve demonstrated you’re serious about recovery, they’ll probably say yes. And if they can’t sponsor you for whatever reason, most people will point you in the direction of someone else who would be a great sponsor.
So, go for it! Get that sponsor and work the steps. It’s one of the most rewarding relationships and journeys you may ever experience.