12 Step Sponsee suggestions



3- 12 Step Sponsee Suggestions


For many of us finding a sponsor to guide us through the 12 Steps can mean the difference between recovery and a life of addiction. This page provides you with suggestions on how to find a sponsor who can effectively support and guide you towards recovery.


1. Has what you want

2. Lives in the solution

3. Has more clean time

4. Same gender as you

5. Is available

6. Has a sponsor

7. Focuses on step work

8. Unbiased on spiritual principles



  • An important part of taking responsibility for our recovery is to find a sponsor who will act as our primary support system in helping us work the 12 Steps and live a new life in recovery. But choosing a sponsor is no small matter, and it may be a difficult process for many of us. For starters, we addicts have trouble trusting others, so putting our faith in someone does not come naturally. On top of that, it is not easy for us to ask for help. This may be that because we’ve felt rejected so many times, we are afraid to try again. We may think others don’t care about us. And as is always the case with us active addicts, our thinking will try to steer us away from any action that could lead to help in recovering from our addiction. Most of us come into recovery because we are in desperate emotional trouble and have run out of options. In the Fellowship, we have an opportunity to place the support system of sponsorship between us and our addiction, which wants us back in its grip. What is important to bear in mind is that you are no longer alone. You have entered a Fellowship of men and woman who are suffering from the same disease as you and who have found a solution to their problem and are living healthy lives. This is the place you can feel free of shame or guilt. In the meetings you will hear others share stories that show that many have done things as bad as you feel you have done – or worse. Rest assured you will not be judged. In time you will find that you can even laugh about the horrors of your life as an active addict and breath a sigh of relief that it has come to an end. You can also expect to find joy in the knowledge you are now united with others in your goal to recover.
  • The best way to find a sponsor is to go to meetings and listen to those with time in recovery talk about how they deal with life without resorting to drugs, a day at a time. You will soon see that there are those with whom you can identify and feel comfortable. The person you choose as your sponsor will be someone you respect, someone who has the kind of recovery you admire. If you feel hesitant or anxious about asking someone directly to be your sponsor, you can go about it slowly. For instance, to get to know them, you can ask that person to go for a coffee. Then in the casual conversation that follows, you can talk about sponsorship in a general way and see if you like what you hear.
  • Most of those in recovery are flattered to be asked by someone to be their sponsor, and are happy to say yes. But sometimes, a member with time in recovery may have so many demands on their time already that they are unable to take on a new 12 step sponsee. So if the person you ask to be your sponsor turns you down, it’s for a good reason and you should not take it to heart, not take it personally. Maybe that person already has other sponsees, or is at a place in their life or recovery where they cannot be an effective sponsor to you. But don’t give up. What is important is your willingness to go to any length to find recovery, a sure sign that you are on your way.
  • There are no rules or any one way to find a sponsor. In the modern world with the availability of the Internet, there is now what we call “remote sponsoring.” Although not ideal, since it means we are not dealing with our sponsor face to face, this can be an effective alternative. This is especially true for foreigners in a foreign land where there are few sponsors of our own language. This is especially true for us Iranians living in a foreign land where there are few sponsors of our own language. In addition, there are chat rooms and Fellowships that have their own forums, which you can access online and participate in your own language. These can all help you learn about the Steps and get involved in your Fellowship’s program.

For information on how to access 12 Step anonymous Fellowship websites, please refer to Fellowship Directory. 

  • For those who want to work the Steps but don’t have access to a sponsor there is co-sponsorship. With co-sponsorship, two or more addicts new to the program get together and work the Steps together in a systematic fashion.

For further information on this method of sponsorship, please refer to 12 Step co-sponsorship  


  • Nothing in life is ever perfect, of course, but so long as you are willing to go to any length to recover, you are already on the right track and can use any means feasible and at your disposal to make a start in your Steps. There is plenty of Fellowship-approved literature that contains information about the Steps and recovery freely available at the meetings.


Below is a list of suggestions that may help you choose a sponsor you can work with effectively.

Bear in mind: these suggestions are to be taken as guidelines – as ideas – on the various ways of going about choosing your sponsor. In 12 Step anonymous Fellowships there are no rules on how to find a sponsor or what a sponsor should or should not be. We do not live in an ideal world, and finding a sponsor is like getting into any other relationship.  It is a matter of chemistry, and there is a process of trial and error in matching up with someone compatible. Do not let this deter you from finding a sponsor, of course.  The solution to our problem, the way to recover from our disease of addiction is by working the 12 Steps — and most of us have found the support of a sponsor crucial to this task. Be diligent in your quest for recovery and good health. Take responsibility for your disease and do whatever is necessary to work your 12 Steps. For us it’s a matter of life or death; it’s a choice between suffering and living in recovery and freedom. We have found that when we are willing to go to any length and humbly ask for help, our God gives us what we need.

12 Step Sponsee suggestions


1- Has what you want

Usually we look for a sponsor who has the type of recovery we want to have. A sponsor is someone who is walking the path you’re about to walk, so it makes sense to choose someone who is heading in the direction you want to head. All a sponsor really has to offer is his or her experience, strength and hope, so we should choose someone who has a recovery and an attitude toward life that we aspire to. Listen for someone with whom you can identify with and relate.


2- Lives in the solution

The length of someone’s clean time does not necessarily guarantee the quality of their recovery. There are many of us who have managed to stop using drugs but are still active in our addiction. Though we have managed to stop one of the symptoms of our disease, we may still be active in our “insane” thinking and behaviors. Or we may have merely switched from one type of addiction to another. For example giving up drugs to then act on sex, food or other compulsive and addictive behaviors. In choosing a sponsor find someone who seems to be working a solid recovery program. Look for someone who is applying the Steps in their life and who is living a relative free and serene life. Ultimately, we are asking a sponsor to give us what he or she has, so if that person is still at dis-at-ease with their life in recovery, then they are not going to have much of value to teach us. With the wrong sponsor we are denying ourselves the miracles of recovery and the freedom that comes with it.

Having said this, no one’s recovery is perfect. By virtue of the chronic nature of our disease in that we are never cured, each of us works the Steps on a daily basis to get better. We are all filled with defects and none of us has worked “perfect” Steps. The program offers us a template; a way of life each of us applies to the best of our ability, as we journey in our recovery. But in looking for a sponsor it’s best at least to find someone who has good working knowledge and experience of the Steps. Find someone with experience in what it is like to live in the solution.

But be careful not to sabotage yourself by waiting to find the perfect sponsor – for this would be our addict heads preventing us from finding recovery. As addicts we all know what our aspirations for perfection got us — failure and a return to using drugs. So go ahead and take the plunge, and ask someone to sponsor you. Be aware that these relationships are not binding. You can always get yourself a new sponsor if the relationship with the one you have is not helping you.


3- Has more clean time

For obvious reasons we should choose as our sponsor someone who has worked more Steps than us. It is also almost always the case that the sponsor has more clean time than the sponsee. It is the experience of the sponsor – experience in working the Steps and living life free from drugs under whatever circumstances – that is their primary value to the 12 step sponsee.

In some Fellowships it is suggested that sponsors have at least a year’s clean time and have worked the first five Steps. This is because most of us need our first year to focus on our own recovery before taking on the considerable responsibility of helping another, while working the first five Steps will have provided a good understanding of the disease of addiction and the solution.


4- Same gender as you

To reduce the risk of sexual involvement, which may divert us from recovery, all 12 Step Fellowships strongly suggest we find a sponsor of the same sex. When new in recovery, our disease may try to substitute something – anything – for the drugs we have left behind.  A person – a lover – can take the place of the drug as a means to escape. This is how we have always coped with life. So in order to keep our priority on recovering from this primarily mental disease of ours, it is best not to tempt it in a sexual relationship. In addition, while working with our sponsor we are bound to share our deepest secrets, some of which will be easier told to someone of the same sex.


5- Is available

It is a good idea to find out if your prospective sponsor is available and able to meet you regularly. Having someone whom you can depend upon for consistency and support are elements that can greatly encourage you as you journey into your new life and help you stay in recovery. This is especially true for addicts coming from a chaotic life. In the early days we are bound to be vulnerable and still in active addictive thinking, so having a sponsor who is available for us to call or meet can be a great source of support – and help us avoid a relapse.

It is a good idea to ask your potential sponsor about his or her availability. There is information in the Sponsorship agreement that provides you with practical suggestions on the logistics of contacting your sponsor.


6- Has a sponsor

When looking for a sponsor it is a good idea to find someone who has a sponsor, for this indicates that the person is working their program, is humble enough to be guided, and also has a support system. Our program is a design for living a life in recovery one day at a time. No one completes the 12 Steps or graduates. We work the Steps each day and grow in the quality of our recovery and spirituality. No matter how long we are clean, we all need a sponsor to keep us focused on the program and support us through the ups and downs of life in recovery.


7- Focuses on step work

Often sponsors are likened to guides who show us the way, light the path towards recovery and support us through our journey of working the Steps. An effective sponsor therefore prioritizes their time and energy with you to work the program. They will meet with you to do activities that concern the Steps, such as sharing their working knowledge and experience of a Step, responding to your queries, reading Fellowship-approved literature, etc.

An effective sponsor also knows his or hers boundaries and limitations. They will be aware that in their capacity as a sponsor they are not qualified to provide you with medical, financial, or martial advice, to name a few areas that fall outside the role of a sponsor. Experience shows that a sponsor offering their opinions on such matters runs the risk of being held responsible – which leads to resentments when things go wrong. An effective sponsor also has the wisdom to remind us why we have sought their help. They know their purpose is to guide us through the 12 Steps so that we can learn to apply its tools to our new way of life. An effective sponsor stands up for themselves and doesn’t let the 12 Step sponsee go on endlessly about their problems without referring us to work the Steps for the solution to our problems. So at times to our dismay they may remind us of their limitations and responsibility towards us. Part of that responsibility is telling us frankly when we are drifting away from the program or failing to take responsibility for our recovery or our lives.

Some of us like to think of our sponsors as friends. But while many of these relationships do develop into very close friendships, primarily a sponsor is there to help us work the Steps. It’s best to focus this relationship on that essential objective so you can best benefit from your recovery. Socializing and finding friends can be done with any member of your Fellowship groups.


8- Unbiased on spiritual principles

The 12 Step constitute a spiritual program of actions to recover from addiction. The program is rooted in our reliance and belief in a God of our understanding. It is important to know where our sponsor stands on this critical issue – and to be OK with it. Otherwise you may find it hard to work together. For example, your sponsor may believe in nature as their Higher Power, while you have a firm belief in a Muslim God. So long you both have the wisdom and maturity to accept and respect another’s ideologies, there should be no problems.  Each of us has to choose their own understanding of their God. But if one of you tries to define the other’s concept of a Higher Power, there are bound to be difficulties. So discuss this issue with the person you are thinking about asking to be your sponsor.

Question or Comment

Hamrah welcomes any questions or comments you may have. We will reply back to the email address provided.

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