Sponsor Advice: 5 Tips From Oldtimers

Sometimes it just helps to have some good, sound sponsor advice. Seemingly banal statements can sometimes be the difference between staying clean and sober, basking in the joys of The Promises; or it can be the kicking-and-screaming, tooth-and-nail affair that we tried so many times before coming into recovery. Those pieces of advice can be that one thing that sees us through those last-lines of defense before disaster strikes. Here are some of the best bits of sponsor advice I received from my various sponsors throughout the years.

Sponsor Advice #1: “There are no rules—only suggestions.”

My sponsor made it clear to me very early on that he was there for no other purpose than to take me through The Steps, and that he was willing to put as much effort into my recovery as I was. As one alcoholic to another, he told me that taking advice from a drunk on how not to be a drunk didn’t make a lot of sense, but that what his sponsor told him to do worked. So far, it has worked for me, too.

Sponsor Advice #2: “You can do anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”

My sponsor knew better than to tell an addict/alcoholic not to do something. By saying I could do whatever I wanted, so long as I was willing to live with the consequences, he left the door open to come to him with anything and without judgment, no matter what the situation was. By doing that, I had a fighting chance and someone in my corner.

Sponsor Advice #3: “If you can’t tell your sponsor, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

It might sound like an exaggeration, but I didn’t know what was right and wrong when I came into The Program. I asked my sponsor how I could tell what was right and wrong when he wasn’t around, and this saying was his basic litmus test. His response seemed almost common sense, but it was common sense I didn’t have at the time.

Sponsor Advice #4: “Thinking about calling is not the same thing as calling. Don’t be afraid; I’m just a drunk.”

Although he said this in the context of calling him, the idea applied across the board. Doing the work was what mattered—not the intention. When I was drinking, I had great intentions, too, he said, but look how those turned out, and where I landed. Besides, what was I afraid of? Not getting the approval from some drunk I otherwise wouldn’t have known?

Sponsor Advice #5: “Every Step is built upon the one before it.”

This one piece of sponsor advice was probably the most important. Every Step has its foundation in the one before it, and therefore, since all other Steps are built upon The First, that was the one that I absolutely, positively had to be certain of. I was, and I am. I’m glad about that, because it was the end of the fight.

What were some of the great bits of sponsor advice you’ve gotten? Let us know in the comments!

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