People in treatment for substance use are likely to be introduced to the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Twelve Steps encompass a collection of stepping stones that can assist individuals in achieving and sustaining sobriety. Many treatment centers incorporate elements of the Twelve Steps into the recovery programming.
After completing treatment, you will be advised to join a Twelve Step community as a protective aftercare action in early recovery. The recovery meetings offer both social support and ongoing inspiration for “working the steps” and remaining sober. Another important contribution of A.A. involves its sponsors.
About Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors
No one is more relevant for assisting someone in their recovery journey than a person who has been on that same path themselves. One of the tenets of A.A. is the importance placed on helping others in recovery. When a member has achieved lasting sobriety, they can then assist someone who is new to the program.
Becoming a sponsor is a win-win. Not only will the sponsee benefit from the guidance and support provided by the sponsor, but the sponsor themselves will benefit as well. Helping others navigate their journey actually helps the sponsor become stronger in his or her own sobriety.
How to Get a Sponsor
So, how do you go about getting a sponsor after treatment? Fortunately, it is a fairly straightforward process. Once you decide on a Twelve Step community you will soon notice the person facilitating the meetings asking for a show of hands from those who are willing to be a sponsor. These individuals will have already completed the Twelve Steps and are well established in their recovery. You can begin chatting with these potential sponsor candidates after meetings to find a match.
Consider these points when deciding on a sponsor:
- Do you feel a personal connection? Feeling comfortable with the person is essential.
- How long have they been in recovery? They should have a strong, established period of sobriety.
- Are they a good fit? If you are a busy parent and he or she is a retired senior, it might not be a good fit. Pick someone who can relate to your lifestyle and stressors.
- Ask how many sponsees they already have. You should not select someone who has multiple sponsees.
- Consider convenience. You should pick a local sponsor who would be available to meet up and work on the steps.
- Consider gender. Most of the time it is best to have a sponsor of the same sex.
Once you decide on a sponsor, they will become your recovery coach during the early phase of recovery, and beyond if desired.
7 Tips for Early Recovery
Here are the aftercare actions to take following completion of a treatment program:
- Evaluate Your Living Situation. Take an honest look at your living situation. If there are entrenched memories involving active substance use that will be difficult to overcome, consider moving. This also includes removing certain friends or acquaintances from your life that could jeopardize your recovery.
- Find a Support Community. Try out the different recovery communities until you find a fit. In addition to A.A. meetings, there are Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery meetings, among others.
- Ask Someone to Sponsor You. Once you find your support community get to know the different people who are willing to be sponsors. Select someone who aligns with the tips mentioned above.
- Keep Tabs on Mental Health. In early recovery it is very important to manage your exposure to stress, as stress can trigger a relapse. Practice self-care activities that help you reduce stress levels, like practicing yoga or meditation.
- Continue Outpatient Therapy. During the first year of recovery you will need some clinical support to help work through the setbacks that commonly occur. Continue on with outpatient therapy sessions and group sessions.
- Establish Healthy Habits. Early recovery will involve reestablishing healthy routines and habits. Create a daily routine that includes maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and sticking to a daily sleep schedule.
- Notice Any Signs of Relapse. A relapse doesn’t usually just happen. Be aware of the little signs that a relapse might be imminent. If you notice the early signs of relapse, double down on your recovery efforts and meet with your sponsor.
Although the early phase of recovery is a time of transition and restoration as you embrace your new sober lifestyle, it can also present some challenges. By practicing these tips, including getting a sponsor, you can minimize disruptions in your recovery journey and continue to move forward in recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.