Finding and using a sponsor is one of the first things that is usually suggested to those who are new to Narcotics Anonymous. This suggestion, however, doesn’t often come with much information about knowing who or how to ask. Following are some thoughts from active Narcotics Anonymous members of the Down Home Ozark Mountain Area about how to go about finding a sponsor:
How to Find An NA Sponsor:
The easiest way to find an NA sponsor is to begin attending meetings and listening to members who are already clean and in recovery (click here for the most up-to-date meeting schedule). As you listen in meetings, begin asking yourself who you feel comfortable listening to as they share, and who seems to be aware of the solutions NA offers. Begin getting phone numbers and calling members. This is simply a good habit to get in to, but will also help you get to know members better as you consider who you would like to ask to be your NA sponsor.
What to look for in an NA sponsor
The number one goal of a sponsor is to lead their sponsees through the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous. Following are some of the questions you might want to ask someone before you ask them to be your sponsor:
- Do you have an NA sponsor?
- Have you worked through the 12 steps with your sponsor?
- Do you regularly attend NA meetings?
- How do you give back to NA?
SHOULD MY SPONSOR BE A MAN OR A WOMAN?
There are no “NA rules” about this. However, it is very important to keep in mind that the process of learning about the 12-steps of recovery from your sponsor will most likely cause you to become very close to that person. Therefore, it is important to choose a sponsor for whom you are unlikely to develop sexual or romantic feelings. For those of us who are straight, this often means having a sponsor of the same sex. For those of us who are gay, this often means having a sponsor of the opposite sex. Again, there are no “NA rules” about this. Just keep in mind that the relationship you have with your sponsor is the most important relationship you will have with another NA member, and it is your responsibility to choose someone with whom you will be able to be honest, open and clear.
One of my family member’s is in NA; why can’t that person be my sponsor?
There are many NA members who share being in recovery with a parent, spouse, child, sibling, cousin, etc… Most of them will tell you that being able to share recovery with a family member is an awesome experience. However, one thing almost every NA member will also tell you is that some of what their work through the 12-steps has revealed hurt, resentment and guilt when it comes to family relationships. The 12-steps are a way to work through those things, and it is difficult to do with a sponsor who is not able to be objective because they are too close. As you can see, it is possible to truly enjoy sharing recovery with a family member, but leaving the work of going through the details of our family relationships to a sponsor who can be objective.
WHAT IF SOMEONE SAYS NO?
NA members who have been clean and in recovery for a while have learned to be very honest about themselves and will be honest with you about their availability as a sponsor when you ask. If someone says ‘no’ when you ask, it is not personal. You may discover the person you ask already sponsors several other people and cannot take on another sponsee. Or, that person may have limited time due to work, school, family commitments or other things. If someone says ‘no’, you can still ask for their help in finding a good sponsor. There are many solid NA members who can sponsor others; sometimes it just take a bit of time to find the one who can be available to you.
HOW TO BE A GOOD SPONSEE: Quotes from our members
“I call my sponsor very regularly…even if it’s just to check in. That way she knows what’s going on in my life.”
“Honesty is the key with my sponsor. If I am not telling him the truth about what I am doing (or not doing), there is no way he will be able to help.”
“My sponsor is not a banker, babysitter, counselor, taxi service or anything else like that. My sponsor’s #1 goal is to teach me about the 12-steps of recovery in NA. If I start expecting my sponsor to “fix” or “manage” everything in my life I am just missing the point.”
“I keep my commitments with my sponsor. It is not fair to ask her to be available and then not show up or call.”
“Don’t put your sponsor on a pedestal just because he/she has a lot of clean time and experience in recovery. Sponsors are recovering addicts and human beings. They can have bad days and hard times too.”
“I trust my sponsor. If he suggests I talk with another member, try out an NA meeting I’ve never been to, or tells me I’m ready to move on to another step; I just do it. I do it even if I’m scared. I have faith that he won’t lead me in the wrong direction.”
“I have a very strong support group of other NA members that I call too. My sponsor works and likes spending time with her husband and kids. It’s not fair to expect her to be available to me every moment of the day. Calling other NA members helps me out when she is not available.”