Sponsor Help

Why Your Sponsor is Not Your Enabler

Selecting a sponsor for the first time can be a challenging experience. Many people in recovery from alcohol addiction are afraid to place trust and confidence in a new person, build a relationship and focus so much energy into that individual. Learn how to let go of fear while ensuring the sponsor does not become an enabler to addictive behavior.

Choosing a Sponsor

Understanding what a sponsor is (and is not) can make the process of finding and trusting a sponsor less painful. Putting faith into someone that is unknown is also risky. However, many people come and go in a person’s life while in active addiction who are less than honorable. Learning to believe and trust in someone who has an individual’s interests at heart should be easier than it actually is, at least at first. The following are some things to consider when looking for a sponsor and what red flags to look out for to make sure the sponsor is supportive and helpful in the recovery process.

The sponsor teachers about 12 steps

A good sponsor will ultimately be able to point a person in recovery back to the 12 steps repeatedly while teaching how to follow the steps in daily life. The sponsor has lived experience with using the steps (including any ups and downs) so will be more capable of supporting the journey as a teacher.

A sponsor shows up no matter what

A sponsor will be there when times are good and when times get rough. Times are guaranteed to be rough at some point in recovery because that is the nature of the whole experience. A good sponsor will be able to show up, listen, guide and teach while supporting an individual through the rough patches without crossing any boundaries.

A sponsor will listen

One of the key elements of a good sponsor is the ability to listen. The sponsor will be listening to some of the deepest, darkest secrets of the mind, a person from whom counsel can be sought without worrying about whether or not judgment will happen.

Setting Boundaries

A good sponsor will be responsible and set boundaries from the beginning with a sponsee in recovery. The following are some good tips to keep in mind:

  • Sponsors are not a bank nor is a sponsor there to loan money
  • Sponsors are not marriage therapists or able to fix a person’s life
  • Sponsors are not significant others (typically sponsors are same gender to avoid conflict)
  • Sponsors are not at one’s beck and call
  • Sponsors are human, not perfect beings

Going through the checklist is helpful but it is best to discuss boundaries and relationship specifics with a sponsor who can support and guide an individual through the process. Recovery comes with a steep learning curve so it is not expected everything will come easily but it is important to follow some basic guidelines to ensure safety and best practices for all parties involved.


Call The Villa if you are thinking of seeking help for an addiction. We are here to help guide you through the process and give you support for the journey to recovery.