How Do I Become an Alcoholics Anonymous® Sponsor?

Helen Akers

Members with at least one year of sobriety under their belts are able to become an Alcoholics Anonymous® sponsor. New participants may seek out sponsors of their own choosing or more seasoned members may indicate a direct interest in becoming a sponsor. Depending on the local group, those who wish to become an Alcoholics Anonymous® sponsor may need to submit their information and request to a central contact person.

An alcoholics anonymous sponsor must be able to help a person who abuses alcohol to become sober.
An alcoholics anonymous sponsor must be able to help a person who abuses alcohol to become sober.

Sponsors are needed to help guide and support new members of Alcoholics Anonymous® groups. The main goal of any sponsor-new member relationships is to help the member figure out a sound, individualized method of maintaining sobriety. Those who wish to become an Alcoholics Anonymous® sponsor need to fully understand what it means to stay sober, be willing to provide unbiased support, and understand the organization's Twelve Step program.

People who are convicted of drunk driving are often required by the court to attend Alcoholics Anonymous® meetings.
People who are convicted of drunk driving are often required by the court to attend Alcoholics Anonymous® meetings.

The main requirements for anyone who wants to become an Alcoholics Anonymous® sponsor are at least one year of successful sobriety and a willingness to provide active support to new members. Sponsors are typically paired with members of the same gender, per A.A.® protocol. Anyone who becomes a sponsor should be willing to deal with the ups and downs that come with helping someone make the transition from a life of alcohol abuse to sobriety.

Sponsors need to guide new members in Alcoholics Anonymous groups.
Sponsors need to guide new members in Alcoholics Anonymous groups.

Those who wish to become an Alcoholics Anonymous® sponsor might get their start by approaching one of the leaders of their local chapter. Some find that they become sponsors when a new member requests to be paired with them based upon mutual rapport or interests. Others become sponsors by actively approaching new members and offering to help them make the transition to a life free of alcohol abuse. Online A.A.® groups tend to have a submission process where potential sponsors submit their information to a main contact, who then matches them up with new members.

It is important for any sponsor to know the ins and outs of the Twelve Step program. Sponsors should be willing to educate new members about the sobriety process, but do so in a neutral manner. For example, a sponsor who is religious should not attempt to impose his spiritual beliefs as the way to achieve sobriety on a new member who is not religious. Sponsors should be willing and able to engage in an ongoing, open communication process and share their experiences of how they were able to successfully achieve sobriety.

An Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor must have at least one successful year of sobriety under his or her belt before being able to sponsor someone.
An Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor must have at least one successful year of sobriety under his or her belt before being able to sponsor someone.

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Discussion Comments


I am coming back to the US after a few years overseas, and I badly need an AA sponsor in the Tampa, FL area. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! Michael S


@nanny3 - I can definitely understand your issues with AA after the organization let your grandfather pass through their program with some bribery, but I think all programs have their issues. The situation with your grandfather seems like an isolated case as the experiences my family have had with AA were much more positive.

My mother went to AA for a year and made amazing progress with the support of her sponsor and the members in her group. She learned invaluable lessons and was able to tackle the reasons behind why she drank so much. She is now an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and does her job with pride. I think every organization has their bad apples, but the most do their job well.


My father spent several years in AA and after he finally managed to stay sober for more than a year he worked hard to become an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. He felt that after all he had learned and all the struggles he had faced that helping another would not only keep him on track but could possibly do some good in the world.

My father worked with several addicts during his time as an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and felt that the whole experience was very rewarding, and yes it did keep him on the straight and narrow. For those who want to help your chapter out, talking with your leaders is the best way to start.


I don’t want to be mean, because I think that AA is a great organization. My issue isn’t with them at all.

My grandfather was an alcoholic. Not a bad man, but a hardcore alcoholic who was into moonshining back in the day when that was a really big thing. He was caught on more than one occasion, and part of his sentencing was to attend AA.

Do you know that that man went to his meetings drunk as a skunk and still graduated? I hear that he did this by bribing one of the higher ups with good old fashioned moonshine.

Now, this was way back in the day, of course. My grandfather died from complications of cirrhosis of the liver a couple of decades ago. But I always thought it was a shame that his addiction brought him down, and that he managed to pull a formerly recovered alcoholic down with him as well.

It’s a sad disease, and makes otherwise really good and fine folks do some of the strangest things.


I think that becoming an AA sponsor is not only a wonderful thing to do, but also a very brave path to start down.

Any recovering alcoholic can tell you that no matter how long they have gone without a drink, there is always that chance that they could get sucked back into the bottle. It’s a disease and an addiction that is perpetual and devastating.

And that is why I can see how it would take a tremendous amount of courage and pure guts to become a sponsor.

Not only are you playing a responsibility role to a person who is still in the early days of struggling, but you are still fighting your own internal battles as well.

It is not only commendable, but downright humbling to see someone put this much of him or herself on the line just to help another alcoholic get and stay clean.

These folks are truly inspirational.


@bluespirit - The twelve steps and twelve traditions are difficult to break down into brevity. Even if the idea is broken down into a main quote for each step or tradition, it is a must to read the chapter and understand the extent of what that quote covers.

Some general principles of the 12 steps and 12 traditions are new beliefs the participants talk about and discover such as putting more trust in a Higher Power or discovering personal beliefs that are difficult such as admitting powerlessness to alcohol.


I am an alcoholic who has been sober for a few years, but I did not go through the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

My program was more just detox, and I think I was just lucky to stay sober. I think a program like Alcoholics Anonymous, with its focus on lifestyle and continual time spent in the program is a more helpful program to alcoholics.

I was wondering what some of the 12 steps and 12 traditions are...


I agree about Alcoholics Anonymous being a wise choice for people addicted to other things.

But I wonder if it is easier for people to when they start the program, to be in an Alcoholics Anonymous program with others that have more similar problems.

For example, I have a sister with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). She went to the support group and it was very difficult at first, because no one was struggling with her type of OCD or her particular obsession.

Once people who had her type of OCD joined the group, I thought it was very interesting that she began not only to enjoy the group more but also relate to the others with different types of OCD more.


@saraq90 - You may want to see if individual Alcoholics Anonymous groups accept non-alcoholic sponsors. However, even if you have had family members that are alcoholics; you may want to think about how you have not been through what the person in the program has been through.


I have heard so many great things about Alcohol Anonymous groups. It seems to be a very rewarding job to become a sponsor and help someone through the infamous Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps and 12 traditions.

I am curious if you had to have been an alcoholic to be an alcoholic at one point to become an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor...


@Icecream17 - Wow that is great. I think that the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program could really be applied to any addiction because in order to address a problem like this we really have to admit that it is a problem in the first place before we can fix it.

For some people it may take years for them to admit that they have a problem, and it is not until they hit rock bottom that they actually start to make a change for the better.

I also wanted to add that there are weight loss groups that also promote successful members to become group leaders. They have to have had kept their weight off for at least two years in order to qualify. These leaders give great insight because like the alcoholic anonymous sponsors they have battled the addiction and actually managed it to the point that they can live a normal life.

These people also inspire the other members and they realize that they can also lead this type of life too.


@Crispety - I agree with you. In fact people that suffer from most addictions are really helped by having a mentor that has also dealt with the same problem.

I was watching a program on television the other day about people with food addictions. Some of these people were excessive overeaters and other had bulimic and anorexic issues.

The therapist and owner of the rehab center also had a weight problem due to excessive overeating and it was because she kicked this problem that she wanted to help others.

She was able to help her clients point out the painful issues in their lives that brought them to have this condition. It was hard to watch at times, but it was also very powerful because you get to realize that most addictions including food addictions are formed because we want to fill a void in our lives.

Some of the clients on the show had horrible childhoods with unloving parents. There was one case that involved a woman that suffered from bulimia and anorexia for over thirty years. You learn by watching the show that this woman could never receive any form of approval from her mother and this was the source of her pain.

She punished herself daily with the anorexia and bulimia because she was mad at herself that she was not good enough for her mother. During this show she received therapy that allowed her to realize that her mother was unloving and not a normal parent to no fault of her own.

She realized that her mother was the one with the problem and she stared to rebuild her self esteem again as a result.


@Suntan12 - I agree and I like that the Alcoholic Anonymous sponsors also had problems with alcohol because they really understand what goes on in the mind of the alcoholic and they can show the alcoholic that there is light at the end of the tunnel and they can manage the addiction and actually give up drinking for good.

These people bring enormous insight to this problem because you really can’t understand how destructive alcoholism is until you have either experienced it firsthand or have had a family member afflicted with this condition.

I also recently learned that there are Alcoholics Anonymous online meetings which is really great because now there is no excuse for missing a meeting.


I think that a program like the Alcoholic Anonymous 12 step program is really helpful to the alcoholics because they really need support to be able to live with this problem.

People that suffer from an addiction like this need to realize that they will always have this problem with alcohol and have to take things day by day.

Having support from a sponsor helps during the weaker moments when the alcoholic is most likely to binge.

I think that the meetings are great because it not only offers the alcoholics support and offers them ways to manage their addiction, but it also reminds them that they are not alone and others are also suffering from the same problem.

I also think that when you go to a support group you also learn from other people’s experiences and it makes you more aware of your own problems.

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