How to Pick a Good Addiction Support Group Sponsor

Addiction Support Group Sponsor

Support groups are helpful resources for people in recovery or struggling with alcohol/drug abuse or addiction.  Support group sponsors are recommended by chemical dependency and mental health counselors as well as the legal system.  Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA), and Gamblers Anonymous (GA) are just a few examples of addiction support groups.  There are brick and mortar meetings all over the world,  online support group meetings, or you can use both.

What is an Addiction Support Group Sponsor?

  • A confidant.
  • Your sponsor is one of your lifelines in recovery.   A sponsor is a person in recovery who “has what you want.”  This is so important! The role of a sponsor is to help you move through the 12 steps, help you acclimate to a life of recovery, work through cravings, introduce you to other 12 step members, serve as a role model, and more.
  • Don’t pick a sponsor right away. All addiction support groups suggest you pick a sponsor asap, but doing so may result in you making a choice to say you have a sponsor rather than taking the time to find a good sponsor you relate to and trust.
  • Twelve step support groups encourage members to find a support group sponsor asap.  This is easier said than done because if you pick a “bad” support group sponsor and the relationship fails, it can be a blow to your recovery.

Qualities of a Good Support Group Sponsor

Make a list of people you’re considering to sponsor you.  Look for these qualities (and what’s important to you) to help you pick a good sponsor:

    • Listen when people talk in meetings.  Do they talk a good line in the rooms, but contradict themselves when they leave the meeting?  Or, are they consistent and walk the walk?  A good sponsor isn’t perfect. No one is perfect. In recovery, do as I say, not as I do is not acceptable.  Many people spew a good line in a meeting, but don’t walk their talk.
    • Other qualities — trustworthy, integrity, caring, understanding, empathetic, open-minded, significant recovery time, honest, similarities
    • Pick a sponsor with qualities you admire, want to emulate, confide in, to look up to, a person who has qualities you admire, someone who has worked to better themselves, spent time working on themselves someone who has some time clean and who can help you figure out how to stay clean, often by actively doing the 12 steps.

Questions to Ask to Pick a Good 12 Step Sponsor

Interview those you’re considering as a sponsor.  A sponsor is one of the most important people in your recovery, so it’s important to make sure you are comfortable and pick a good support group sponsor.  Here’s a few questions to get started, but feel free to add whatever is personal to your recovery:

  • What do you expect of a sponsee (you)?
  • How do you feel about medication?
  • What’s your opinion on mental illness? (Optional according to situation, but can be telling.  Mental illness, such as depression, often accompanies addiction.)
  • What step are you on?
  • How often do you go to meetings?
  • Are you involved in service?
  • Do you have a sponsor?  Do you call your sponsor?
  • What is your idea of recovery?
  • What are your values?

Asking a potential sponsor questions opens up a conversation about recovery.  I’ve had amazing sponsors.  I’ve had horrible sponsors, but I’ve learned from both experiences.  The #1 thing I learned is to TRUST MY GUT.

Picking a Sponsor Final Tips

Be patient.  Find a confidant, whether it’s a counselor, friend, or a diary.  Recovery is about feeling without covering up with substances or other vices.  Find a healthy way to get feelings out.  A general rule for picking a sponsor is to keep it same gender to avoid attraction.  If you’re new to recovery/meetings it’s important to know that just because you’re going to a recovery meeting does not mean the people around you are all healthy, even those with some significant time, which is why I really encourage interviewing potential sponsors.  One thing to keep in mind is that if you do choose a sponsor you don’t have to keep them, if things don’t work out. The relationship will develop over time and when you pick a good sponsor you trust it’s very likely to enrich your recovery and life.


  1. says

    You had a good link for quality meetings.
    1 in the afternoon Voice chat meeting Eastern time



    Anyone can join,no membership required

  2. says

    Good outline of sponsor-hood.

    I particularly like the questions to ask a sponsor.

    Your stress on trust I have found to be absolutely essential.

    • ok admin says

      Thanks so much for the comment. I really appreciate it. It’s really hard when someone experiences a bad sponsor-sponsee relationship. Hopefully, people will find this helpful. Again, thanks.

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