When to Call Your AA Sponsor

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

when to call your aa sponsor | Renaissance Recovery

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Knowing when to call your AA sponsor is sometimes difficult and confusing, especially if you are fresh out of a treatment program. We’ve put together the top 10 times you should call your sponsor.

1. If you find yourself stressed out by friends, family, work, school or in any situation (ex. during the holidays), you should pick up the phone.

During the recovery process, you’ll invariably be stressed out as you struggle to deal with situations that you would have previously dealt with by drinking or using. These situations are relapse triggers and there’s no shame in feeling momentary weakness. There’s no point risking a relapse in these situations and calling your sponsor can help you work through the challenges.

2. When you’re struggling with a big decision. Ex. relationship issues, work issues, legal challenges or any conflict situation, it’s probably to time to make the call.

It’s not uncommon for people in recovery to question their own judgment. Rather than allowing a big decision to stress you out to the point where you’re considering relapsing to help calm your nerves or dull the anxiety. It’s better to get on the phone and talk through it.

3. Knowing how to react in some situations such as conflict or being asked to make a difficult choice can be difficult.

The old you just wants to react without much fear of consequences. The new you knows better but sometimes, you need someone to remind you to think carefully about choices that affect you – and others.

4. Romantic relationship challenges are weighing on you.

Any type of conflict or stress in a romantic relationship can be a powerful relapse trigger. A neutral third party (such as your sponsor) is an ideal confidant and counselor in these trying times.

5. When you start to question when you’re tempted to sugarcoat the truth.

Human nature is to trying soften the blow of a hard truth. This can be anything from fluffing your answer to an uncomfortable question to deleting relevant facts that might paint you in a bad light. There can be consequences to this, especially among loved ones. This is definitely a good reason to call your sponsor.

6. Toxic relationships are making you question yourself.

The simple fact is that many people, even sober people, may have a person (or people) in their life that are toxic. With the clarity of sobriety comes the realization that dealing with these people can be challenging, to say the least. You can’t be expected to know how to deal with these people effectively, especially in the early stages of recovery. Your sponsor can help you to identify toxic people and provide you with a roadmap for dealing with these issues.

7. When sadness or self-doubt occupies your thoughts.

Honestly, this is among the hardest challenges to deal with during recovery. Your feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem and regret can be toxic to your recovery process. Regret for your past actions cannot impede your recovery process. A sponsor can help talk you through the concept that you can’t change your past, but you can change your future. The connection between depression and addiction is well documented. Lean on your sponsor during these episodes.

8. For help in understanding “The Big Book.”

The Big Book is a guide to recovery. Admittedly, some of the passages can be a little vague – perhaps intentionally so. A sponsor can you help you define what the book is saying and how to turn the passages into actionable items. They goal of the book is not to confuse people, but to speak to a wide range of people, each with different personalities.

9. When deciding on whether or not you should get romantically involved with someone.

Let’s face it – you may not trust your own judgment here, given that your previous choices in life matters weren’t always the best thing for you. You may feel that your radar is a little off. That’s only natural. The Big Book talks about romantic relationships, but there’s much left unsaid. Before you take the plunge, have several conversations with your sponsor about your readiness. You should also be able to give a clear, objective summary of your potential partner’s attributes and characteristics.

10. Whenever you feel the temptation to drink or use

This is the most important reason to get on the phone urgently. It doesn’t matter what the situation – this is the time to make the call, day or night. Life’s daily challenges alone can be enough. Any little setback, sometimes as simple as getting a flat tire, can stress you out. Even more so when you’re in the early stage of recovery. Don’t ever force yourself to feel that a minor setback isn’t worthy of a call to your sponsor. Your sponsor is there to help you feel grounded and to teach you ways to handle these stressors.

What is An AA Sponsor?

An aa sponsor is a member within AA or NA who has seniority that has been in recovery longer than most of the group or at least a year. Sponsors help newly recovered individuals join into the group, provide resources, help with personal development, and offer accountability.

You can also see your sponsor as a confidant who understands your struggles because they have been in your shoes. You can confide in your sponsor, and often times they are someone you can share information with you may not feel comfortable sharing with the whole meeting. Or to deeper understand issues brought up in meetings but that you feel like you need to more time and work to understand it outside of the limited time frame.

Why is an AA Sponsor Important?

Support groups such as those found in outpatient treatment or sober living homes are extremely helpful, but for those days or nights where you’re not in a group session, a phone call to your sponsor is not only helpful, it’s necessary.

In early sobriety, calling your sponsor as frequently as possible is usually suggested and is almost always a good idea – better safe than sorry, right?

Candidly, there no set rules or designated times that you are required to call your sponsor (unless you’ve made some arrangement), so utilize this resource whenever you feel the need. Resist the temptation to call a friend because they’ll lack objectivity and will likely not give you the same advice a sponsor would.

You need the cold, hard truth and support. This is what makes the sponsor relationship so powerful – and so effective.

If you or a loved one need treatment, contact us now and we can get you set up at our Orange County rehab.

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country