The Importance of a Sponsor in Recovery
We’ve all probably heard someone being called a “sponsor” when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction recovery, but what exactly is a sponsor in recovery, and how can he or she help? By taking a closer look, we can learn just how important, if not essential, a sponsor can be in you or your loved one’s journey to wellness.
What Is a Sponsor?
A sponsor in recovery is someone who has been where you are. While no two addiction stories are the same, this person has struggled with drugs or alcohol and looked deep within to acknowledge their substance use problem. A sponsor has also made the big decision to get help and get better, just like you. However, unlike you or your loved one, a sponsor has journeyed well beyond this crucial first step and has now been sober for a considerable amount of time. He or she has built a healthy and stable drug-free life, and is ready to give back and help others.
A sponsor in recovery is someone who has been where you are.
In our Recovery Replay podcast episode “Kasey Beavers: Finding Strength in Recovery (Part 2),” we hear more about the role of a sponsor from Hillary Bennett, Beavers’ sponsor. “My job as a sponsor or support person is to just walk alongside somebody,” says Bennett, “just stay with them, and encourage them to seek outside help, outside counseling. Take them through the 12 Steps, encourage them to repair the relationships with their family members, encourage them to forgive themselves, and forgive others. Basically, shed the things that caused us to drink in the first place.”
A sponsor is a guide and mentor. While there is no replacement for trained mental and medical health professionals, a sponsor in recovery is a great added, if not essential, resource. He or she knows your experience in a way that people outside of the recovery community do not. There is a level of understanding and empathy, but also of no excuses and no lies, that a sponsor brings to the table. A sponsor is an immediate and understanding source of support, information, and encouragement.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Sponsor in Recovery?
You may be wondering, How important is a sponsor in recovery? The answer is, Very. There are so many benefits of having a sponsor in recovery, both short-term and long-term. Early Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) studies published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) indicated that having a sponsor predicted increased abstinence from alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. This shows how a sponsor can help to give you the push you may need to begin your recovery and stop using drugs or alcohol.
A sponsor can also help provide accountability and keep you on track as your recovery continues. Another NLM study revealed that relapse was significantly more likely when a member didn’t maintain consistent contact with their sponsor or did not have one at all. Other research published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment also found that participants who acquired a sponsor during treatment were significantly less likely to drop out of their recovery programs by the one-year mark. So, a sponsor not only makes it more likely that you will start your recovery, but that you will stay committed to it.
A sponsor not only makes it more likely that you will start your recovery, but that you will stay committed to it.
How Long Does Sponsorship Last?
Long after you have established a healthy and rewarding drug- or alcohol-free life, you can continue to experience the benefits of having a sponsor in recovery. Bennett shares that although she has sponsored many women, she still has a sponsor of her own. So, a sponsor will be with you for the long haul, for any time you are struggling or just need to be able to call someone and talk.
You can also benefit from the sponsor system if you choose to later become one yourself. Bennett says that for her, sponsorship helps to keep her connected and practicing her recovery: “I’m the one [who] gets helped seeing the light in another woman’s eyes come back, seeing hope restored, seeing careers restored, families restored, seeing children get their mommies back,” says Bennett. “It’s what gets me out of bed every single day.” Sponsoring gives your life in sobriety another layer of richness, purpose, and motivation to stay drug- or alcohol-free.
Finding a Sponsor in Recovery
Finding a sponsor in recovery is simple. When you choose The Meadows Outpatient Center for you or your loved one’s recovery, a sponsor is part of the program. We don’t just tell you to “go get a sponsor” once you return home. We understand the importance of sponsorship and connect you to this resource from day one so you can have social support from the very beginning of your recovery.
Bennett describes the many wonderful new approaches that come with recovery nowadays: medication, spiritual programs, academic programs, etc. “There’s all kinds of ways to help someone find their path to recovery, whatever that looks like,” she says, “but I rarely see anyone do it alone. And there always has to be a team of people or a support person to come alongside someone and really walk with them.”
Here at The Meadows Outpatient Center, you will find that team, that support, and those proven approaches to treatment. And not just one, but many caring staff members are ready and eager to help you in your recovery journey. We will work with you to create a path to recovery that is best for you, providing you with professional, social, and long-term resources for a lifetime of recovery. Reach out today to learn more.