1. How long have they been sober from their bottom line(s)? The prospective Sponsor should be sober, working the steps and ideally have a Sponsor or a CoSponsor of their own. It is helpful for them to have the experience of having gone through withdrawal and come out the other side so they can guide you through the same process. That means they have identified their bottom line(s), stopped acting out on it/them, and experienced the withdrawal and life changes necessary to avoid bottom line behavior. Although there is no specific time of sobriety requirement, this should be considered.
2. Do they work a strong program? If they have a strong connection to program, they will likely be more informed and more balanced in their recovery. This will help them to be there for you when you need them and to get support when challenges arise. If your situation presents something new to them, they might need Experience, Strength and Hope from others who have been through similar experiences. Find out from your Sponsor how it was, what happened, and what it’s like now. Attending meetings, being of service, working and reworking the Twelve Steps, reading S.L.A.A. literature, fellowshipping, maintaining selfcare, and a sense of balance and calm that comes with spiritual health these are all indicators that they are working a strong program.
3. Do they have a Sponsor? Twelve Step programs work because we guide each other through it. A Sponsor is a recovering addict, just like you, and it is integral for their sustained recovery that they maintain a close relationship with the person who is guiding them.
4. How long have you known them? It is best to get to know someone first before asking them to be your Sponsor. Give yourself the opportunity to see how they operate over a period of time and whether they are available to stay in contact with you on a regular basis.
5. Can you be honest with them? It is very important to be able to speak freely with them about events past and present. Sharing can be intimate and vulnerable. A Sponsor should be trustworthy and OK with your vulnerability and help you feel safe.
6. Are they available? Potential Sponsors may already have a number of Sponsees or other service commitments which would limit their time available for a new Sponsee. Bear in mind that their primary focus will be to help you work the Steps and they may have more time for you as a Sponsee rather than as a friend or acquaintance. One hour per week devoted to going over a Sponsee’s Step work is a reasonable amount of time.
Once you have found someone you think you can work with, you can ask them to be your Sponsor. Don’t be afraid to ask you are giving them an opportunity to work their 12th Step if they are available to sponsor you. Don’t take it personally if they say no. There may be various reasons they may have a lot going on in their personal lives. In any case, you may be able to maintain contact with them even if they don’t become your Sponsor.
(This document has been approved by the Conference Sponsorship Committee 2015)