Can You Outgrow a 12 Step Sponsor?

Can You Outgrow a 12 Step Sponsor?

Working the steps in a 12 step program is as important as reconnecting with family, friends and society following treatment. Find out what it means to possibly outgrow a 12 step sponsor and what situations may occur to support the change.


Lack of Desperation

Early recovery comes with feelings of desperation to rush to meetings for fear of relapse. After some months, days and weeks of attendance at meetings, attention may wane and a return to old ways begins. When a person was asked to be a sponsor, it felt like a great way to stay connected with someone who knew the ropes. Feelings of desperation subsided along with the desire to cling to a sponsor’s every word. Feelings of boredom may have crept in as well as restlessness and a need for change. This may indicate having outgrown a 12 step sponsor.


Need for Growth

Some sponsors are great for newcomers while others are great for those more seasoned in recovery. After a certain point, an individual may want more from a sponsor. Growth cannot be scheduled and, after hitting some important goals, it is time to move forward. Hitting sobriety milestones can feel incredible but greater challenges seem to await, particularly if the sponsor still tries to use the same tactics as early on in recovery and the need for growth feels evident.


Sponsor Stuck in Past

A sponsor who is stuck in the past may bring up both theirs or the individual’s in recovery which seems counterproductive. Everything seems viewed through the lens of the past. The sponsor could be framing things in a new way but this may not be appropriate for the circumstances. A person cannot move forward who is rooted in the past. Encouragement and support may feel false and incompatible with current beliefs. If this happens, it may be time to move on.


Choosing a New Sponsor

Sponsorship need not be a permanent and forever relationship. Selecting a new sponsor can be a difficult process. No rules apply to the process, just a desire to find a new sponsor who can provide support. The following tips may be helpful:

  • Look for a person who has been clean for a year.
  • Find someone who understands the situation
  • Do not choose someone with whom a person relationship has occurred
  • Select someone working on a personal recovery plan
  • Find a person who is trustworthy
  • Find a sponsor who personally challenges oneself in recovery to meet goals and has energy
  • The sponsor should walk the walk and talk the talk with regards to recovery principles


Changing Sponsors

Arrange a private conversation with the current sponsor ahead of time. Bring up the topic in a way that is not offensive or hurts the other person’s feelings. Handle the person’s feelings with care and decide when to locate another sponsor. Identify personal needs and go with what feels right when making the final decision.


Finding a sponsor does not need to be stressful. It is one part of the recovery journey. If you are looking to find a sponsor or seek help for addiction recovery, The Villa can help you get on the right path.