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A sponsor is a person who gives us individual support and guidance in applying the S.L.A.A. Twelve Step Program of recovery to our lives. A sponsor is neither a parent, therapist, nor confessor. Accordingly, a sponsor is a person with whom we have no ulterior motive, whom we do not pay, and from whom we seek neither absolution nor judgment. Our sponsor is, in fact, a fellow addict, and as such, does not counsel from a pretense of higher moral ground - sponsors are not “perfect” people working “perfect” programs. Sponsors share their experience with the Steps, to help shine a light on the path for your recovery. 

How to select a sponsor

A sponsor ideally has solid abstinence from his/her addictive patterns and is willing and available to guide the sponsee through the Twelve Steps. We look for someone who understands the process of S.L.A.A. recovery. A prospective sponsor’s time in the Program, i.e., months or years, is only one of the criteria that can be used to select a sponsor. We attend a variety of meetings in order to identify certain individuals in the Fellowship whom we come to know and respect.


Criteria that some of us have used to select a sponsor include:

  • Has this person worked the Steps?

  • Does he/she also have a sponsor to hold themselves accountable?

  • Does this person’s level of spirituality complement mine?

  • Does he/she go to meetings; have a home group?

  • Am I comfortable with this person?

  • Is he/she confidential and trustworthy?

  • Does he/she listen attentively to me?

  • Will this person be honest with me and point out my areas of denial?

  • Is he/she willing to work with my “bottom line” issues?

  • Can this person discuss his/her own experience rather than give advice?

  • Makes suggestions, not rules/requirements/mandates?

  • Minimizes conversations about outside issues?

  • How much time can he/she give me on the phone? In person?

  • Do our schedules fit in well?

We are reassured when the person we choose for guidance is seeking guidance as well. A sponsor should be a person we are not in danger of acting out with, or find intrigue with. A potential sexual partner as sponsor would interfere with the primary purpose of the sponsor relationship, which is recovery through the program of S.L.A.A. Sometimes this means that the sponsor and sponsee should be of the same sex: sometimes of the opposite sex. Discretion, common sense, and our Higher Power can guide us in our selection process.   

Sometimes a person we ask to be our sponsor declines. Although disappointed, we need to remember that this is not a personal rejection. Rather, this person may simply be unavailable to us at this time for any number of reasons. Our Higher Power is taking an active role in forming this relationship, and requires only that we continue to pray for guidance, “do the footwork” and ask another.

The beginning of the sponsor/sponsee relationship

Once we have obtained a sponsor, we commit ourselves to maintaining regular contact with that person. The frequency of contact is determined jointly by the sponsor and sponsee – as each becomes familiar with our individual needs and boundaries.

Recovery rarely is accomplished in isolation. When we incorporate the experience of others into our lives, we begin to experience a broader view of life and recovery. With our S.L.A.A. sponsor, we learn to become honest and open, asking for love, support, and guidance in our lives. Through the patience and understanding of our sponsor, our fears of condemnation and shame slowly fade. Gradually we become more able to be vulnerable and open with our sponsor, allowing us to more fully benefit from another's help.  A sponsor shares his or her own experience and feelings from having been in situations similar to ours, taking care not to give advice. By listening, a sponsor supports the sponsee without trying to “fix”, and offers understanding without judgment.

Conference Sponsorship Committee (CSPC)

For more information on Sponsorship please contact the CSPC at

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