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What to look for in a sponsor

Choosing a sponsor is like choosing your best friend. Sometimes it just happens and sometimes it’s planned, but there is always something about the other person that attracts us to them. Picking a sponsor can seem scary and intimidating at first. It is our hope that these suggestions may ease this process a bit for you.

Some recovery groups have a list of available members who have volunteered to help the newcomer as “Temporary Sponsors”. Temporary Sponsors can ease our transition in a number of ways, they can answer questions, explain the concepts of the program and terms, saying and other essential items in such a way that helps us to understand. Some “temp sponsors” become primary sponsors, but many are replaced by someone else in time.

The best advice that was shared to us when we were looking for a sponsor was to attend 90 meeting in 90 days. This has a two fold affect, the first is it will show you are serious about the program, the second it will allow you 90 days to meet and greet those in the group with you. While attending the meetings listen to the person sharing. Hear and see what they have to offer.

As you make friends in the group, ask them who they think would be best for you often times we can’t see ourselves clearly but those whom we meet can and can best guide us to the best sponsors.

Questions about AA Sponsorship


  1. Terry O says:

    A sponsor is not a lawyer, a doctor or a marriage consular.
    A sponsor should be a player/coach. We take the new man in the program threw the steps. We share our experiences strength and hope and we walk hand in hand with the new guy. We take him to meetings and introduce him to other AA members. We set the example.

    • Danny says:

      I recently attended a meeting that I really liked. I’m new to AA and out of the gate asked someone to be my sponsor before getting to know him. He seems well put together and I figured if it didn’t work we could both call a spade a spade and move on. I hope it’s the right decision. I’m an impulsive alcoholic and am questioning all of my decisions at this point. I just want to get into the steps.

    • Victor says:

      Is possible to have an online sponsor that I can communicate with via email or chat? I have been in the program for roughly 8 months and I have met a few people. My biggest problem is fear.

      • Leo says:

        Fear can be crippling if you let it be. Faith in your Higher Power means taking a risk and looking for a sponsor who you can trust. Be patient with yourself. Best to meet in person. As you come to know each other, you trust increases.

  2. Andrew K says:

    One thing I’ve learned is to ask the right questions. I don’t put a lot of thought into who exactly will be my sponsor. I do however have a conversation before asking for sponsorship and that conversation usually sounds like this “Hey, I’m currently looking for a new sponsor, I need a good deal of attention right now because I have a lot going on and I need some real direction in my life. I need someone who’s willing to do this for fun and for free, I don’t want to be taking you to dinner or lending any money. Also, I need a sponsor that won’t judge me if I miss a call or reschedule an appointment. I will not take advantage but things come up and when I’m in a sponsorship relationship where I feel guilt and pressure because I forgot to call before 10am or something like that, I don’t do well with forceful direction, there are 1000 ways to do this thing, I want you to help me with the steps, that’s the beginning and end of it. If you have the time and that sounds good to you great, if not, anyone come to mind that you think I would work well with? Any help would mean a lot to me.”

    That’s how I do it, hope that helps someone.

    • James welckle says:

      Sounds to me like you want to manage. Maybe just keep it simple 🙂
      My experience has always been that I can learn from any person place or thing so long as I stay willing to learn.

    • BIG JIM says:

      Sounds like you have a lot of conditions for a sponsor! ! When I found my sponsor I didn’t have a lot of criteria for him to fit into!! I needed a person who lived the program not just talked about it!! I was very fortunate to find the one I did I’m still clean & sober 25 years later! ! He still tells me when I’m out of line thank god for him and his love for the BIG BOOK I will be forever grateful to him and AA! !!

  3. Serena says:

    I have a question about sponsors. I have just started going to Al-Anon and wonder when I should seek a sponsor. I mean I know I have to start working the program…but I am actually scared to start. I know the benefits …but can “get over myself” to accept and do. Already feeling like a failure and I haven’t even started yet. :-/. I do t even think I can ASK for help…my pride scares me.

    • Rosie says:

      Easy does it, pray for the willingness and have faith in your self, give yourself a chance. May God bless you and keep you safe.

    • BJ says:

      Hi Serena,
      What u r feeling is very normal for many, many Newcomers. FEAR = False Pride.
      Keep coming back 2 meetings and different meetings in your area and just listen and have FAITH that you can let that PRIDE go to better yourself!
      Pride can be a very bad barrier in my Life, however, w/ the Help of my (HP) Higher Power, Al-Anon Program and my WONDERFUL Sponsor, I LIVE and no longer SURVIVE! You can have this too, always know there is HOPE!

    • Brian says:

      Stop thinking! After all that is what got you to where you are today nervous anxious frantic etc. Pray about it and it will come.

  4. Wayne says:

    25 years ago I found a 12 step program thanks to my incredible wife. I struggle every day, but when I follow the steps, the struggle is not so bad. The better I follow the better the day is.

    All the cliches you’ll hear work, if you work them like the one that says, “it works, if you work it”, OR
    “keep coming back”! There’s so much in them, if you keep an open mind. They will all come to you when the time is right.

    There is so much peace and serenity available to us, all we have to do is ask for it. I’m so glad to have read that one message about the newbie who was afraid to open up to share, or even whether he should come back. thank you for your post.

    by your post, I’ve had my eyes reopened to all that I have been missing for quite some time. keep me in your thoughts because I really need a lot of help. My core program is OA, but I also need to work AL Anon, and ACOA.

    Rememer we are never alone (Footprints in the Sand). When things are rough, my wife came up with the notion that “one day at a time” was too difficult sometimes, so we say perhaps one hour, minute, or even one second at a time is how we can keep our abstinence.

    Keep coming back, even if you haven,t anything to say. When the time is right, the power (Higher Power) will move you. Instead of “WWJD”, I like to say “WWHPD”.

  5. Frank says:

    What do u do if its a grl that u click with what then?

    • Jon w says:

      I would highly NOT reccomend choosing a Sponser of the opposite sex. Many problems can come from that…

    • Arthur says:

      Keep her as friend but do not ask her to be your sponsor . It too complicated I’m afraid especially if you have a wife r partner at home . It could cause a lot of resentment and head trouble that you don’t just need at this stage of your recovery . Get on your knees and pray for a sponsor and in gods time one will come along when you least expect it ..

    • Robin says:

      In my experience-men with men,women with women! This is how I learned to develope trusting relationships with same sex & never had to worry about being “13th stepped”. Many other benefits come with working with same gender sponsorship!

      • Heather says:

        I’m a lesbian, should I get a man sponsor? I live in SF and go to gay meetings, I could easily be 13th stepped by a woman. I was thinking of getting a gay man for a sponsor. The woman who said she would sponsor me never picked up the phone when I called :/

  6. Lsw says:

    Nowhere is “90 in 90” in the big book. If its not confirmed there, toss it.

    • Arthur says:

      I’m sorry to say to LSW that 90 in 90!does definately work you won’t hear the message at home I’m afraid my friend . Stick close to watever group you belong to and all will become clearer in time . It worked for me in AA . Stick close to the winners and those you can identifiy with and if you want it bad enough all will be revealed in time . Rem it says are you willing to go to any length to stay sober . God will reveal himself to you if he is sought . God bless my friends .. May your god go with you ..

  7. Scott says:

    Stick with the winners,,,learn from the rest.

  8. Rick M says:

    I have a great sponsor Josh C . He has helped me these last 18 months. I don’t think I would ever find a sponsor like him. I’ve called him just about every day in 18 months . He’s helped with problems that I thought were big & he’s showed & suggested to me how to live right & do the next right thing. I love this man & will pass on his words of wisdom. He probably won’t see this but I just want everybody to know there are great men & woman in the program that give their time to help others with no thought of payment. If you’re ever in claremore Oklahoma we have great meetings & people here .

  9. Kevin F. says:

    What I tell newbs to look for in a sponsor:

    -Someone who is living the spiritual and emotional life you wish you could. Someone who knows how to apply the tools of the program when the bad stuff happens. If their life seems to jump from one drama to the next…maybe not the best choice.

    -Someone who lives with integrity. My first sponsor was cheating on his wife, and I am pretty sure was using cocaine. I need to be able to respect my sponsor.

    -Someone who sees through your shinola and will call you on it.

  10. Ron Rashid says:

    I’ve hated my sponsor, and I’ve loved him. A friend should not be your sponsor. A sponsor has one primary purpose. To carry the message of AA, to guide you through the steps

  11. Kerry M. says:

    Qualifications of a sponsor may be found on page 18 of the Big Book. It would also be wise to read Chapter 7. It’s all in the book folks! The Forward to the First Edition clearly states… “To show other alcoholics PRECISELY how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. ” So… Maybe I should follow the book PRECISELY!

  12. Paul K. says:

    What I look for is someone who attends a lot of meetings, is into service, has a sponsor of their own, talks about the steps in meetings and how they apply them to their daily life…as well as that twinkle in their eyes… You can tell the difference between someone who has had a spiritual experience as the result of working the steps and who hasn’t….
    A sponser can’t guide you through the steps properly if they weren’t taken through them properly themselves.
    You can’t pass something on that you don’t have…

  13. Ray says:

    I want the opinion is on having 2 sponsors.

    • Tommy A. says:

      As long as you’re not having one sponsor to play off the other (to be able to hear what you want to hear), it’s probably all right. But we can easily bullshirt ourselves into not calling the sponsor who tells us what we need to hear.

  14. Sharon says:

    im new at this & in need of a sponsor that can sponger me on line. Is there any way of that?

    • Griffin C says:

      Sorry but online sponsorship doesn’t work. The core of AA is based on one alcoholic talking to another, face to face. Many of the steps require this. Fortunately, AA is everywhere now! Call your local central office, take your feet to a meeting and the rest will follow!

  15. Philip Harding says:

    I had an amazing sponsor my first year in sobriety He helped me through the steps with patience and love. I over and since then haven’t seen the need for a sponsor. In times of trouble, I just call or talk with others in the program. One reason is that I move around a lot, but there are also no clear guidelines on sponsorship in our program. I’d caution people to be very careful in choosing a sponsor and who they sponsor (I’ve been a sponser twice). If you’re not careful. You could end up in a dysfunctional, controlling relationship. No two alcoholics are alike except in the fact that they’re alcolholics

  16. Jim K says:

    I have had a temporary sponsor for a while and today 1971 days later I have the same sponsor as I asked to be my sponsor . I did 90 meetings in 90 days and got to know people . Went through the steps with him and today I still have that sponsor who is also a close friend . He also has a sponsor and as part of this program I also have sponsees. Today I am blessed and have a great life , many friends and the obsession to drink has been lifted !

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