Addicts Helping Addicts: Reasons to Become a Sponsor

Do you remember how you felt the first time you attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or, if you are a friend or family member of an addict, an Al-Anon meeting? You may have felt scared, resistant, angry, nervous, hopeless, ashamed, and alone.

Perhaps one or more members introduced themselves and made you feel welcome – maybe you still remember their names or have since become good friends. As the meeting progressed, you may have taken comfort in the similarities of your situations; they truly understood what you were going through. You returned to the meetings until you felt comfortable sharing your story with the group. You found a sponsor who helped your recovery immensely. But years later, you’ve stopped attending the meetings. You feel your recovery has been successful, so why continue to go? In their pamphlet on sponsorship, AA recognizes that the entire group has a certain responsibility for making new members feel welcome. Although it is not required of members, individual sponsorship can be a natural extension of the principles of all of these groups. In your own recovery process, there can be a number of benefits to sponsoring a fellow recovering addict or alcoholic.

  1. Sharing Your Knowledge You may be surprised at how much you have learned about alcoholism, addiction, or coping with an addict in your life. The knowledge that you now take for granted could be new and invaluable to someone who is just starting your program. As you teach someone else how to apply this knowledge to living a sober, healthy life, you may have new insights into your past experiences as well.
  2. Reinforcing Your Commitment People who are just beginning the recovery process will likely feel overwhelmed by their problems. Guiding them through the difficulties that they face will remind you of your past struggles and how you overcame them. Should you be confronted with temptation to relapse or other difficulties in your own life, having a regular reminder of the consequences of certain decisions and behaviors can help you make the right choice when it matters most.
  3. Improving Someone Else’s Chances of Recovery & Quality of Life In addition to the ways that sponsorship can benefit you, remember how much your sponsor helped you. Many people who have made the decision to leave addiction in the past struggle with giving up the social aspects that they associated with drinking or drug use. They feel like they need to start their lives from scratch and can become depressed. Your successes can be inspirational, and your failures can be comforting to someone who feels that they will never reach their goal of a clean life or happiness. It is one thing for an addict to be told how great life can be while being treated in a rehab facility – and another thing for them to see another recovering addict actually enjoying a sober life.
  4. Helping the Family and Friends of Newly Recovering Addicts/Alcoholics Even if a newly recovering addict or alcoholic is unable to recognize the emotional damage they have likely inflicted on their families and friends, you may be able to help them by directing them to Al-Anon or other forms of support or therapy. If everyone is making an effort to improve the situation, the outcome may be positive for all parties involved.
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