"What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?
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"What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Patsy© » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:33 pm

"What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

(from the Alcoholics Anonymous, pamphlet; "Questions & Answers on Sponsorship")

What is Sponsorship?

Most present members of Alcoholics Anonymous owe their sobriety to the fact that
someone else took a special interest in them and was willing to share a great gift with

Sponsorship is merely another way of describing the continuing special interest of a
seasoned member that can mean so much to a newcomer turning to A.A. for help.

Individuals and groups cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of sponsorship, the
importance of taking a special interest in a confused alcoholic who wants to stop drinking.
Experience shows clearly that the members getting the most out of the A.A. program, and
the groups doing the best job of carrying the A.A. message to still-suffering alcoholics,.
are those for whom sponsorship is too important to be left to chance.

By these members and groups, sponsorship responsibilities are welcomed and accepted as
opportunities to enrich personal A.A. experience and to deepen the satisfactions that come
from working with others.


ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS began with sponsorship. When Bill W., 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

He found Dr. Bob, who had been trying desperately and unsuccessfully to stop drinking,
and out of their common need A.A. was born. The word "sponsor" was not used then;
the Twelve Steps had not been written; but Bill carried the message to Dr. Bob, who in
turn safeguarded his own sobriety by sponsoring countless other alcoholics. Through
sharing, both of our co-founders discovered, their own sober lives could be enriched
beyond measure.

What does A.A. mean by sponsorship? To join some organizations, you must have a
sponsor - a person who vouches for you, presents you as being suitable for membership.
This is definitely not the case with A.A. Anyone who has a desire to stop drinking is
welcome to join us!

In A.A., sponsor and sponsored meet as equals, just as Bill and Dr. Bob did. Essentially,
the process of sponsorship is this: An alcoholic who has made some progress in the
recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another
alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A..

When we first 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.

Whether you are a newcomer who is hesitant about "bothering" anyone, or a member
who has been around for some time trying to go it alone, sponsorship is yours for the
asking. We urge you: Do not delay. Alcoholics recovered in A.A. want to share what they
have learned with other alcoholics. We know from experience that our own sobriety is
greatly strengthened when we give it away!
Failed 12 Step Call? Not if we walk away sober!

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Conorryan623 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:51 am

Thanks for posting this question – what is the role of sponsorship?
I guess in a lot of cases, the role of a sponsor has become someone to lean on and give out about things when life becomes tough. This act of leaning on the sponsor should only be a short term one for the first couple of weeks until we have had the spiritual experience. Anyt sponsor is human, and therefore has the possibility to let us down.
The purpose of the Big Book of AA is that it is a text book with clear instructions on how to have a spiritual experience, and then to have God direct our lives for us. Therefore, the role of a sponsor is to guide us through the steps and leave the rest to God.
Sponsorship can be done badly especially by those who have not been guided through the steps properly themselves and have not had a spiritual awakening, or have not maintained it. Going to extra meetings do not treat alcoholism. The only way of becoming free and happy is to get a sponsor, go through all of the steps and get busy helping drunks!
I am always available to discuss sponsorship (at the PM or e-mail links under my profile). Feel free to reach out to me at any stage.
Best wishes,

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Brock » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:06 pm

This question about the role of a sponsor comes up here quite often, I agree with what Conor said, and I tend to dust off the old soapbox, because I am passionate about it.

That some end up leaning on a sponsor or a group for support, rather than doing the work and leaning where step eleven tells us to lean, is a fact that none have denied here in the past. The saddest part for me is it seems to have a snowball effect. If I am the type of sponsor, who is happy having sponsees bring their personal problems to me, even after the steps are complete, (some say it’s OK to do this forever), instead of looking to a power much greater than me for answers, what am I going to teach them - to do it the same way of course. And the snowball picks up more and more people, while the fundamental foundation of AA, reliance on a power greater than ourselves, melts away.

Of course taking a problem to another for an opinion now and then is fine, the book recommends it, and we do it here as well. But to continually allow ourselves to be used as some sort of adviser for solving other peoples problems, and worse yet to believe this is good AA work, would have the founders turning in their graves.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Shoreline » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:27 pm

In the past I have sometimes relied on my sponsor too much. (I have had 5 sponsors so far). Then when they were not "available" enough to help me with my everyday problems, I got resentful. Now i try to be much less reliant on any one person. If my sponsor is not available or can not help me with something, then I can ask someone else in AA or even outside of AA for help.

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by PaigeB » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:00 pm

As a sponsor and a sponsee, I do not think that the role of a sponsor is to help with everyday problems. I believe the role is to help with everyday SOLUTIONS. And help practicing solutions ob everyday problems. For instance:

Background: I had changed sponsors because of a really low period in 2016. I finally asked someone in early 2017, and we have been working our way through the Big Book's first 164 pages. I finished my 4th Step in December and my 5th Step January. Problem: I have not been able to put pen to paper for Step 8. I always have an excuse - time, company, or winter doldrums... or perhaps I lack the requisite humility. I texted her that last sentence last night - just a short description of the problem. Solution: She texted back = Awww be nice to yourself and get back to work. I am usually astounded with my sponsor's solution to my problem ~ it usually does not sound like what I think needs to be done! But I gave it a little thought and perhaps I am being too hard on myself and I am afraid to start because I feel like the list is going to make me feel worse. I know that I need to just get started no matter how I feel. That is basically what she said right? Ahhh Haaaa!

"I guess I would not have thought of THAT!" Of course that SOLUTION was too simple for me, and the sometimes opposite of what I thought it should be LOL! I NEEDED her to help me with the solution. Problems are going to arise. We need to start practicing with the "Design for living that works in rough going." (Chapter 1, page 15). Then we can help other find the Solution... the Hope. Once we have found a working relationship with an Higher Power we can help them find their HP too.

It is ONLY through working the Steps in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that this was possible for me. Having a sponsor dedicated to working the AA program with me (not solving my marriage difficulties) was Indispensable.
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Tosh » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:13 pm

Shoreline wrote:In the past I have sometimes relied on my sponsor too much. (I have had 5 sponsors so far). Then when they were not "available" enough to help me with my everyday problems, I got resentful. Now i try to be much less reliant on any one person. If my sponsor is not available or can not help me with something, then I can ask someone else in AA or even outside of AA for help.
I don't offer that kind of sponsorship (helping with everyday problems). If someone asks me to sponsor them, I'll explain my job is to get them through the 12 Steps, and by the time I've done that, I'll be bored with them and looking for the next new guy. I am as blunt as that.

This is my truth.

And their job will be to be looking for the next new guy too.

I do other stuff, like get them settled into A.A., introduce them to other A.A. members, explain the etiquette, encourage them to find a homegroup and do service, but I can't/won't do the needy 'call me everyday' thing.

I don't want that kind of sponsorship and most of the guys I sponsor don't seem to want it either.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Db1105 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:34 pm

Many in the Fellowship believe that their Higher Power works through other people.If someone wants to maintain their Sponsor relationship after they completed The Twelve Steps, great for them. To disparage them for it saying they are denigrating the Spiritual foundation of the 11th Step is sad.

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by kaosxtech » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:01 pm

Where my role of sponsor ends and my role of friend begins. I make sure to help and answer questions as me and my sponsee go through the 12 steps. I listen. Eventually I have been fortunate enough that my sponsees turn in to friends; As a result, I found myself helping my new friend go around town looking for a job so he could afford the sober living home he is in. I am happy to say because of his hard work and my help he has a job and is attending meetings. Now I am going to try to talk him in to coming on an H&I panel to help with his 12 step work.
Also I am blessed to have a sponsor that points me to a step or passage from the big book (or another book my higher power has) to deal with life situations.
Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by LivingInTheTruth » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:55 am

To love us I to wellness, but we have to be willing to do the work.

I never had a sponsor who was trustworthy though. They were all shaming, and this was a total of about 40 different so over 15 years. That’s because I had a lot of potential combined with low self esteem. I didn’t realize I could accept help but also had to trust myself and be very, very careful.

Around 7 years sober I finally did the Big Book Step Study process (BBSS) which was God’s way of calling me to him. My sponsor was a young lady named Denise who had come here to Boston from CA. She had earned my trust over a long period of time, and just as I was getting well, I was “pushed”. Into seeing something too fast. Then left alone to cope, while she made herself unavailable.
This kills people in recovery.
Everything hit the ceiling and I got involved with a guy who was not a quality person - at all.
I was able to end that though, and only taking responsibility for myself when I did.
But the man character assassinated me, and when I took the situation to my sponsor, I was wounded through a shaming. I was already so incredibly vulnerable from the work I was doing on myself, and afraid because of what was going on.
Well, this shaming totally overwhelmed me, and I carried that shame for years Mt knowing why I had it.
I never confronted the character assassination, and my psyche being too fragile to handle it at the time, I was left with severe trauma.
I lost everything.
Inside and outside of me.
I had to watch my sponsor whom I loved, run around for years afterwards looking for people to help abuse me in what was by far the worst character assassination I have ever witnessed.

So definitely - di the work in recovery - it got me well once. But just make sure that when everything in you us telling you to do something, that you don’t take that to ANYone but God, and then act.

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Greywolf » Tue May 29, 2018 7:51 pm

Shoreline wrote:In the past I have sometimes relied on my sponsor too much.
I don't go to AAers for advice on finance or romance. Really, I've heard your stories. :lol:
I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care.

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Re: "What is the Role of Sponsorship?"

Post by Billcanojr » Sun May 26, 2019 8:44 am

Look at the back of the BB at all of the AA Conference approved literature . Get the pamphlet Questions and Answers Sponsorship it will tell you all you need about being a Sponsor and what the Sponsor responsibility are .h

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