When the term ‘sponsorship’ is used, what comes to mind is typically a business relationship and representation between a sponsor and a chosen event or business. This is a common conception associated with business and marketing terms since it’s used as a popular promotional tool.
Sponsorship, however, should be understood as a widespread concept; where the root meaning of ‘support’ and ‘help’ is the core of it. This type of sponsorship is found in discrete and protective programs – one of which includes the support of recovering alcoholics.
Yes, even victims of destructive addictions need sponsors. This form of support is not the same as with marketing where ‘exposure’ is the goal. The aim for sponsoring alcoholics is to provide the necessary means for recovery and a return to normal life.
AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
A widespread organization, where the term sponsor and sponsorship is practiced, is Alcoholics Anonymous or simply AA. AA is a meeting society that is informal in nature, with the goal of helping alcoholics achieve sobriety. A twelve-step program devised early on is used as the guidelines for which recovering alcoholics follow.
Historically, AA began with practicing sponsorship. This sponsorship entailed an alcoholic sharing his experience, hope and strength with a fellow alcoholic. This was overtime formalized and developed as a great tool in achieving permanent sobriety among alcoholics.
Each member of AA is eligible in becoming a sponsor. As a sponsor, they are given an opportunity to help other new members who wish to ‘sober up’. This type of sponsorship is in no way financially-based; rather it is regarded as a type of personal support-system in recovery.
Sponsors are regarded as a teacher, friend, tutor, older brother or sister, and experienced guide to the sponsees. Basically, a sponsor in the AA program is someone who has also gone through the twelve-step recovery guide. This way, a sponsee is able to relate with his/her sponsor by leading them through a mutual sharing of experiences and stories.
What to look for in a sponsor
For a recovering alcoholic, matching up with a sponsor is like choosing a best friend. Sponsees are given free reign on deciding who their sponsor should be, and this is often a good process for them. Looking for the best sponsor, however, is not as easy as it seems. The qualifications may differ from each available sponsor, leaving sponsees sometimes confused.
A solution to choosing sponsors is through temporary sponsors. This member type provides an easier transition for a sponsee before he/she finds the right sponsor – this is done by providing the necessary information every recovering alcoholic should know. Temporary sponsors also serve as a temporary guide in answering any clarifications or questions a sponsee may have regarding his or her situation and progress as an AA member.
As a suggestive guide, the factors to look for when deciding on a sponsor are the following:
The potential sponsor should be able to relate with the sponsee
He/she has had more time in recovery than the sponsee
He/she is available for personal meetings, phone conversations and group discussions
Lives by the guidelines of the twelve-step program
Can be a friend and also a firm guide to the sponsee
Can emphasize the spiritual aspects of the program
He/she can ‘walk the talk’ in all affairs