When we were in rehab ( oxford dictionary<short for rehabilitation>,: the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness.), we were introduced to the term “sponsor”. Neither one of us cared for the word, or for that matter, the concept. We knew for certain that we had gotten ourselves into our mess, and instinctively, our ability would pull us out of that complicated situation.
In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), “getting a sponsor” is one of the most strongly suggested actions upon the newcomer’s arrival. Our instincts fought compliance with this advice, but we succumbed because we were in dire straits. We would also propose to the newcomer that they give this unique relationship a try. We tried to remember that sobriety was our goal and that others had followed this path to success, so duplication of their triumph became our call.
Save the attitudes; the idea is pretty sound, getting counsel and teachings toward a desired direction.
According to The Grandview Research, the “U.S. life coaching market size was valued at USD 1,469bn in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.85% from 2023 to 2030. Life coaches are witnessing high demand from individuals and corporate employees to improve their interpersonal skills, work-life balance, and wellness.”
Per IBIS World, The market size of the Sports Coaching industry is USD $14.9bn. That is almost 15 billion dollars for advice and teachings.
These are just two examples of industries that have embraced the concept of coaching, or sponsorship, that helps one learn and grow.
According to AA’s literature, “Alcoholics Anonymous began with sponsorship. When Bill W (AA’s co-founder)., only a few months sober, was stricken with a powerful urge to drink, this thought came to him: “You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you!”
The notion that has played out successfully for us is that there is probably no greater power than the ability of one alcoholic helping another alcoholic achieve sobriety. Only ego can stand in the way of allowing us to accept the caring guidance of one experienced in recovery.
AA Sponsorship is an informal relationship between two drunks. The first drunk has figured out a way to stay sober over time. The second drunk wants to get where the first drunk is. No fee. No contract. No fine print. No hidden agenda. Just two hurting individuals healing each other.
A sponsor leads, guides, and encourages. There are no special qualifications for sponsorship. One could argue for specific requirements and a set framework, but nowhere in the literature on AA does it spell out specific conditions. Many have an opinion, and here is ours; look for somebody, preferably of the same sex, that has what you want in sobriety. Ideally, they have worked, or are working, the steps.
Though we tend to overthink it, it's really that simple. And because this does not have to be a permanent relationship, it's just as easy to check it off and get it done right away.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, the following it's a short list of sponsor functions:
· Inspire sobriety by leading the newcomer by example.
· Practice strict confidentiality.
· Be available for the newcomer.
· Encourage the newcomer to understand and attend meetings.
· Guide the newcomer through the 12-steps.
· Help the newcomer build a support network.
· Teach the newcomer about service opportunities.
The whole thing works equally as well for the sponsee and the sponsor. We have found that working with a newcomer expands our knowledge and “sober strength” exponentially. In addition, sponsorship comes with a sense of purpose that is indescribable.
We had enough pain to come into the rooms of AA seeking any help we could get. Please don't stop at the entrance, as a guided tour awaits
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled #110 Karen Sponsorship The podcast dropped on 05/03/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.