When a person is new to recovery and joins a 12-step group, it is generally recommended that they select a sponsor to show them to ropes. A sponsor is a person who is further along in their recovery and who has successfully worked the 12 steps with a sponsor of their own.
Ideally, a sponsor/sponsee relationship would last for some time, but there is no expectation that sponsorship be permanent. In fact, a sponsorship brochure on the AA website indicates that a sponsee is free to change sponsors whenever they feel like it would benefit their recovery.
A sponsor should be someone you like and respect and with whom you have a platonic relationship. In addition, look for these traits in a sponsor:
Because it’s your sponsor’s job to be honest and hold you accountable, there may be times when you don’t like them very much. If you are thinking it may be time for a new sponsor and you are contemplating finding someone else to work with, make sure it’s not for the following reasons:
Sometimes, in spite of your best effort to pick a sponsor who will be a good fit for you, things happen that make the relationship inappropriate or unhelpful for your recovery. For example:
If you have determined that it is time for a new sponsor, communicate this with your current sponsor as openly, honestly and kindly as possible. Even if they cannot function as your sponsor anymore, maybe they could still be a sober friend in your support network.
Taking the lessons you learned from that relationship, be thoughtful about choosing a new sponsor. You might want to ask for a recommendation from a friend or from the leader of your 12-step group.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. A strong sponsor-sponsee relationship increases your chances of maintaining sobriety. Being willing to trust someone and listen to their honest feedback will benefit not just your recovery but also your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. It might inspire you to become a sponsor someday, too.