An Online Al-Anon Family Group
WHAT IS SPONSORSHIP?
Sponsorship is one of the chief resources we use to help us cope with and recover from the effects of alcoholism. A sponsor is someone with whom we can share about ourselves and our circumstances in detail. A sponsor is an Al-Anon member who has worked through the 12 Steps, and shares their experience in recovery on a continuous, individual basis with another who is attempting to attain serenity and recovery.
Sponsorship assures the newcomer that there is at least one person who understands their situation fully, and cares. The sponsored person knows there is one he/she can turn to without embarrassment when doubts, problems or questions arise.
When we are confused, a sponsor can help us know when and how to put the principles, slogans, and Steps of the program into action. Sponsorship also provides the bridge, enabling the newcomer to ease out of the isolation that many find themselves in.
WHY IS A SPONSOR SO IMPORTANT?
Being sponsored is the first step we take in learning about healthy human relationships and reasonable responsibility to another person. We practice what we learn in our sponsorship relationship with others, and gradually we find all our relationships with ourselves and others getting better.
HOW TO SELECT A SPONSOR
We select a member with whom we can feel comfortable, someone with whom we can talk freely and confidentially. We choose a sponsor who has been an active member of Al-Anon for some time, attends meetings on a regular basis, reads CAL, and is familiar enough with the program to help us learn to apply it to our lives. We look for someone who shares the type of recovery we want. It is important that when choosing a sponsor, it is a person who uses the Al-Anon program successfully in their every day life.
It is strongly suggested that men sponsor men and women sponsor women. This promotes quick understanding and reduces the likelihood of emotional attachment and distractions.
WHEN TO SELECT A SPONSOR?
Do not delay! You won't be "bothering" anyone. Our "best thinking" has made our lives what they are. Al-Anon is NOT a self help program, it is a fellowship. When we ask someone to be our sponsor, they view it as an honor and a privilege. Sponsoring others allows the sponsor to concentrate on the principles of the program and to have an opportunity to practice the Twelfth Step. The act of sharing recovery makes it easier for a sponsor to practice the program in his/her own life and personal recovery.
WHAT CAN A NEWCOMER EXPECT OF A SPONSOR?
A sponsor is not a social worker, doctor, nurse, or marriage counselor. A sponsor is simply an Al-Anon member who is practicing the program. It is not professional training that enables a sponsor to give help, it is personal experience. Remember, a sponsor was once a newcomer too.
A good sponsor does everything possible to work the Twelfth Step, carrying the message and practicing the Al-Anon principles in all aspects of their relationships with the people they sponsor.
CAN WE CHANGE SPONSORS?
Of course. There are many reasons for changing sponsors - we may be unable to identify with each other; there could be conflicts in schedules that prevent regular contact, or we may just need to find someone who approaches the program from a different view.
SO, WHAT DO SPONSORS DO?
Sponsors show by personal example how the program can lead to serenity.
Sponsors do not give advice. In Al-Anon, the focus is for each of us to find our own answers. Sponsors merely guide us in knowing how to find those answers.
Sponsors share what Al-Anon has done to improve their life.
Sponsors encourage the newcomer to attend a variety of meetings - and to keep an open mind.
Sponsors pass on the power of CAL (Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature).
Sponsors assist the newcomer in learning the Twelve Steps and how to apply them in their lives.
Sponsors listen not for details of the crisis, but for signs of self-pity, fear, resentment and negative thinking.
Sponsors share the importance of the Twelve Traditions, and explains their necessity for our group health.
Sponsors do not pretend to have all the answers. A good sponsor will quickly admit when they do not know, and will suggest reading CAL together.
Sponsors never take another's inventory but give honest answers if asked.
Sponsors never give advice or make decisions for the member, particularly about family issues.
Sponsors have a commitment to recovery and lets the newcomer know that the quality of recovery is in direct proportion to the effort put into it. "Half measures avail us nothing".
Sponsors underline the importance of principles above personalities.
Sponsors avoid dwelling on personal problems, but share the Experience, Strength and Hope of personal recovery.
Sponsors present the program simply.
Sponsors lead by example, and a good sponsor does not expect the newcomer to do anything they themselves are not doing or have not done.
Sponsors avoid talking about their own problems to those they sponsor. Sponsors use their own sponsors. Good sponsors have sponsors!!
Sponsors are good listeners.
Sponsors give Al-Anon solutions.
Sponsors emphasize gratitude and guides the newcomer in focusing on the good in their life.
Sponsors teach newcomers that alcoholism is a family disease, and we are the only ones we can help. Sponsors help the newcomer to learn to let go of the other person and put the focus on themselves.
Sponsors encourage regular contact.
Sponsors teach that meetings are important. We need to hear many people. We can't get the program from listening to only one person.
Sponsors teach the newcomer that we must deal with problems that prevent us from coming to meetings. (baby-sitters, schedules, transportation, etc.)
Sponsors remember the silver rule and don't do for another what they need to do for themselves. The sponsor carries the message, not the person.
Sponsors give directions and share experience - they do not give advice.
Sponsors are a channel for information, not a spokesperson for the program.
Sponsors encourage the newcomer to develop a daily program of reading, prayer and meditation.
Sponsors teach newcomers that a problem can be split into one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. They teach how not to run away from or around a problem, but to work through it.
Sponsors stress the importance of the Serenity Prayer.
Sponsors pass on the information that the Twelve Steps are a way of life that can be applied to ALL problems.
Sponsors teach the newcomer how to be a "member" rather than an "attendee".
This is the handout from a workshop on "Sponsorship" held at KEY in 1999. It is not Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature and is not meant to be a substitute for CAL.
K2H suggests that you read about sponsorship in the CAL pamphlet P-31 "Sponsorship -- What It's About", the section on sponsorship in the CAL book "How Al-Anon Works" and the readings on sponsorship in Al-Anon's daily meditation books.
If you are a member of Key to Harmony and you would like to be a sponsor or are looking for a sponsor, use this form to let us know. Your email will be forwarded to the Sponsorship Committee.
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This page last updated February 4, 2021.