As early as Step 9 or 10, you should have the tools for sponsoring. But that doesn’t mean dragging someone into the program part of recovery. That’s up to them, not you. Some people just want the ‘fellowship’ of the group, not the program. You can’t change that.
The AA book gives us this warning:
Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, p 96
It is imperative that we do this quickly. Don’t fall into remorse or regret, just give them a way to contact you if they change their mind and move on! Not everyone who needs it is ready to accept help, however, so here’s a simple qualifying process.
Seeking a Sponsee
- Be willing to respond to the first person you find who is still suffering in or out of the program.
- Ask them if they would like a sponsor. You might get a refusal, which is often the case. It’s still good practice.
Check for honesty, openness, and willingness before taking on the Sponsee who says yes. Give them the AA book if they don’t have one and instruct them to read the first 164 pages as soon as possible, then give you a call/email/text when they finish.
Ask the following:
- Are they willing to go to any lengths in order to recover?
- Are they willing to quickly do the Steps with you over a period of 4 to 6 weeks?
- Are they willing to attend specific, literature based meetings regularly?
- Are they willing to be brutally honest with you right now and in the future? (Here is where we find out if they have legal issues, are having affairs, using porn, abusing prescription drugs, gambling, taking illegal drugs, still drinking or smoking pot, etc… This is crucial because if they can’t be honest here, the chances diminish as they get into the work and start to feel better and ego gets a toehold again. Do NOT leave this until Step 4.)
You can jot these questions down in your cell, or on a sticky note in your AA book. Be prepared. Step 12 is a wonderful experience and helping others recover from the bonds of self is a joy that keeps us growing, as well.
NOTE: The above applies equally to general audiences or those in other programs of recovery. I have sponsored anyone who wants to do the Steps. The principles work for anyone who seeks a spiritual awakening.