Apr 13: What does a sponsor do and not do?

What does a sponsor do and not do?

* A sponsor does everything possible, within the limits of personal experience and knowledge, to help the newcomer get sober and stay sober through the A.A. program.

* Shows by present example and drinking history what A.A. has meant in the sponsor’s life.

* Encourages and helps the newcomer to attend a variety of A.A. meetings — to get a number of viewpoints and interpretations of the A.A. program.

* Suggests keeping an open mind about A.A. if the newcomer isn’t sure at first whether he or she is an alcoholic.

* Introduces the newcomer to other members.

* Sees that the newcomer is aware of A.A. literature, in particular the Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and Grapevine, As Bill Sees It, Living Sober, and suitable pamphlets.

* Is available to the newcomer when the latter has special problems.

* Goes over the meaning of the Twelve Steps, and emphasizes their importance.

* Urges the newcomer to join in group activities as soon as possible.

* Impresses upon the newcomer the importance of all our Traditions.

* Tries to give the newcomer some picture of the scope of A.A., beyond the group, and directs attention to A.A. literature about the history of the Fellowship, the Three Legacies, the service structure, and the worldwide availability of A.A. — wherever the newcomer may go.

* Explains the program to relatives of the alcoholic, if this appears to be useful, and tells them about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen.

* Quickly admits, “I don’t know” when that is the case, and helps the newcomer find a good source of information.

* The sponsor encourages the newcomer to work with other alcoholics as soon as possible, and sometimes begins by taking the newcomer along on Twelfth Step calls.

* Never takes the newcomer’s inventory except when asked.

* Never tries to impose personal views on the newcomer. A good sponsor who is an atheist does not try to persuade a religious newcomer to abandon faith, nor does a religious sponsor argue theological matters with an agnostic newcomer.

* Does not pretend to know all the answers, and does not keep up a pretense of being right all the time.

* An A.A. sponsor does not offer professional services such as those provided by counselors, the legal, medical or social work comunities, but may sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A. is needed.

*The sponsor underscores the fact that it is the A.A. recovery program — not the sponsor’s personality or position — that is important. Thus, the newcomer learns to rely on the A.A. program, not on the sponsor.


Most present members of Alcoholics Anonymous owe their sobriety to the fact that someone else took a special interest in them and was willing to share a great gift with them.

Sponsorship is merely another way of describing the continuing special interest of a seasoned member that can mean so much to a newcomer turning to A.A. for help.

Individuals and groups cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of sponsorship, the importance of taking a special interest in a confused alcoholic who wants to stop drinking. Experience shows clearly that the members getting the most out of the A.A. program, and the groups doing the best job of carrying the A.A. message to still suffering alcoholics, are those for whom sponsorship is too important to be left to chance.

By these members and groups, sponsorship responsibilities are welcomed and accepted as opportunities to enrich personal A.A. experience and to deepen the satisfactions that come from working with others.

I took several paragraphs out of the pamphlet for AA Sponsorship to discuss for our meeting this week.

I have had a bumpy road when it came to sponsorship, because I was looking for friendship and approval, and I choose someone who had common interests, and not worked all 12 steps. Other times I put too much dependence upon my sponsors and relied on them, not the AA program. In both cases, although, I became dissappointed with the results,

It wasn’t the AA program that failed me, it was choices based on self, that failed.

In each case I walked away stronger in program values, having learned valuable lessons.

Please share on what strikes a cord in your heart, or anything else you may need to share about.