Sponsorship and Co-sponsorship

If you are new or don’t yet have a sponsor, you may want to consider getting one. Sponsorship is an informal, voluntary relationship in which a more experienced member helps guide a newcomer through recovery. Members can also co-sponsor each other to work the steps together. More informally, members can serve as accountability partners for each other.

If you are looking for a sponsor or a co-sponsor, the best way is to attend a meeting, and at the end, mention you are looking to connect with somebody. If you don’t find a sponsor right away, don’t get discouraged, and keep coming to meetings and letting people know you are looking. We are a young program with relatively few sponsors, so you may also consider co-sponsorship. Here is a helpful format for co-sponsorship:

  • Schedule a weekly, biweekly, or daily call with your co-sponsor (whatever suits you both best). Consider setting a time limit of 30 or 60 minutes.
  • One of you goes first, sharing how you are doing, struggles or achievements, reading aloud any writing exercises you have done, and sharing your goals to work on before your next call.
  • The other listens patiently, and afterwards asks whether the person who shared would like to hear reflections, feedback, or suggestions. If invited, they may do so.
  • Then you switch.

If you are both new to the program, you may want to consider consulting more experienced members during steps 8 and 9 (making amends).

If you have some sobriety and have taken Step 3, you can consider beginning to sponsor newcomers as you continue to work the steps. Discuss this with your sponsor and see what they think. This AA Pamphlet on sponsorship is a great resource on understanding how sponsorship works. And here is one ITAA sponsor’s reflections on how they sponsor:

Here’s my general approach to sponsoring:

I am first and foremost open to supporting my sponsees in whatever way that they feel is most helpful, including not working the steps in a structured way (if they are not interested or ready, or if they are focused on working the steps in another program). Generally, my sponsorship centers around compassionate listening.

As first steps I often recommend writing out bottom, middle and top lines (step zero), and doing a step one inventory: when the addiction started, how it changed over time, and how it is today.

Resources I often recommend to my sponsees are the OA 12&12 and the OA Workbook. These have served as useful guides to work off of together, particularly after the initial exercises.

I try to listen sensitively to what my sponsees are grappling with or considering with respect to each particular step, and offer them questions or writing exercise subjects that will help them engage with their questions in a deeper way. I try to avoid any sense of there being a ‘right’ way of working the steps – particularly as I am still working them. So I try to adopt a student mentality, to encourage my sponsees to be open to their feelings and not need to worry about satisfying me.

When relevant, I try to share my own experience and the tools that helped me.