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How Important is a Sponsor?
Coastal Addiction Center (844) 627-3268
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The deadly, endless cycle of alcoholism and drug addiction destroys lives every day in the United States. Tens of millions of individuals in the U.S. are affected by this disease either directly or indirectly - through a close friend or family member. Hopefully, if you are reading this, and are affected, you or your close one has realized there is a problem and is beginning to seek help.
So what is a sponsor and why are they important?
Before we discuss this, we need to identify what a sponsor is. To do this successfully, we will need a little background information. We will do our best to keep this part as short, and to the point, as possible.
Twelve Step Programs
One of the most widely accepted forms of ongoing treatment solutions for substance abuse is twelve-step programs. There are countless denominations of twelve-step programs, the more familiar ones being Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These programs are fully self-supporting and not for profit, making them an amazing ethical solution for this disease. It is generally suggested in most of these programs that newcomers find and work with a sponsor.
A sponsor is simply someone who will take the addict or alcoholic through the twelve steps. In some cases, they become a mentor, someone to help guide the recovering individual through their journey of healing. This experience will vary from person to person.
There is one aspect of alcoholism and addiction that is often overlooked. Addiction is NOT a short-term problem that will go away just by stopping the drugs and drinking for a period of time. Alcoholism and drug addiction are deeply rooted both the brain and the consciousness. To some extent, substance abuse is a learned behavior that has completely transformed how the affected person views the world around them.
For the addicted person to heal, they need to completely change their way of thinking. What is needed, is to surrender everything they think they know about pretty much anything. This is often so painful to hear, that the alcoholic or addict has major difficulty accepting this and beginning to recover. What makes this more difficult is that this isn’t exactly an intuitive concept; family and friends can often dismiss this and not be supportive of this grand and necessary change of attitude. This is where the phrase, “you need to hit rock bottom” comes from. Only when things have become so terribly and incomprehensibly bad does the addict, family and friends, become willing to do anything necessary. At that point, hopefully, the individual suffering from alcoholism or addiction can truly surrender and begin to recover. Please remember: the alcoholic and addict’s best thinking got them where they are right now...
So.. why is a sponsor important?
Once the previous paragraph is fully understood, the question becomes apparent that if the alcoholic or addict is going to totally change their way of thinking; how are they going to do that? Keep in mind that many people in twelve-step programs (and your sponsor) have been through this already and have their experience passed down to them from someone who has also recovered.
This is where twelve-step programs and sponsors come into play. There are three important aspects to this concept of what to do and how to start thinking. Honesty, Open-Mindedness, and Willingness.
Keeping secrets keeps the alcoholic or addict sick. It is imperative that through the steps, and in general, the suffering individual stops keeping thoughts and actions to themselves. Having a sponsor can help; someone to listen to or give advice on the things we so desperately want to keep to ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a sponsor though. Family, friends, sponsor, etc, find someone to talk to about everything going through your head. It might not seem like it, but this will save your life.
Remember, a change of thinking is what is necessary to begin to heal. How do we do that? We do that by changing our actions. Instead of assuming we know everything, we become open-minded to the fact that listening to others is almost guaranteed to be better than listening to ourselves. Our best thinking got us where we are right now. Of course, not everything you hear from every person is going to be the best thing for you. If you ask three people advice on something, people who have found a better way of living, it is almost guaranteed to help rather than hurt. Again, the addict or alcoholic has probably tried to change their lives and failed many times, why not try something different. For things to change, something… has to change.
This final and crucial concept is what connects everything else. So the alcoholic or addict has finally accepted these truths, now what? It is time to become willing to take the suggestions you are being given and go into action. As with anything else in life, without the action, nothing will happen. Being willing to take these required steps will make recovery a reality.
While taking suggestions and making these changes aren’t the easiest things in the world to do, it’s not a bad solution for an almost guaranteed better life: freedom from alcoholism and addiction. The first thing people do when hearing these truths is to come up with a series of excuses of why this advice won’t work. This is truly unfortunate as it is literally the only thing keeping the addict or alcoholic from a better life and possibly even saving their life.
A sponsor is someone who will help with all this and guide the person suffering into a better life. If a sponsor doesn’t work out, you can always get a new one, no big deal. Just be careful that you aren’t changing sponsors only because you don’t want to change.
**It is often difficult for a person experiencing substance abuse to grasp these concepts. Coastal Addiction Center can help with the detox process, and start them on the path to a happier, healthier, productive life**
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