What is an AA Sponsor? Everything You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : JULY 11, 
| 4 Sources

What Is Their Role?
How To Go About Choosing One

We explain their role and how to go about getting an AA member to be your sponsor

Is an AA sponsor like a typical organization sponsor who initially introduces you into the group and who vouches for you good character etc?

This is not the case in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

An AA sponsor is a person who has been abstinent for a long period and who is prepared to support a newly abstinent member. A patient’s sponsor in AA serves as an advisor as the person struggles to navigate the challenging journey of sobriety and recovery. The sponsorship idea is an integral part of the Alcoholics Anonymous set up, and part of its social support network.

In AA, you would have a better chance at recovery with a sponsor than without one. It is all about social responsibilities, living up to them and doing one’s duty to help each other.

Whether you are a newbie who is apprehensive about “bothering” anybody, or a member who’s been around for a while trying to go through it alone, sponsorship is yours for the asking.

"If at any point you're struggling with your sobriety, speak to one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience, they have been in your shoes. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7."

The Unwritten Rules on Sponsorship

You can choose your own AA sponsor if they agree to sponsor you, but AA prefers them to be of the same sex, believing that mixed sex sponsor pairs cause unwanted complications (the idea that a man and woman cannot have a platonic relationship being part of this no doubt).

It is not forbidden to have a sponsor of the opposite sex, but it is not advised.

You have to choose your AA sponsor wisely though as they become a very influential figure in your life, and a crutch in time of your greatest need. Sponsors are at liberty to tell you that they cannot help if they have urgent business elsewhere.

However, they have a moral duty to put you in contact with another reliable person if you are facing a crisis and a possible alcoholism relapse and they cannot support you at that time.

For more on the Alcoholics Anonymous program of alcohol recovery, read The AA Way

An AA Sponsor is not a Doormat

A person has the right to decline a sponsorship and this would be wise if the sponsor thinks that you would not be compatible.

However often people who are complete opposites to you make the best sponsors as they have a different outlook and can share their insights with you in order for you to see things from a different perspective.

It makes sense for many reasons though to choose an AA sponsor with the same socio-economic background and educational level as you.

It is hard enough being an alcoholic who struggles to get through another day without a drink; you don’t want a sponsor who might ‘drive you to drink’ because you do not see eye to eye on some important issues.

Sponsorship is Not a Two-Way Street

A sponsor has to be your best buddy who will be there for you when the going gets tough. If the sponsor is having a bad time he/she should not unburden themselves onto you however, but should seek out their own personal sponsor, and this should be something that you accept.

Sponsorship is a one-way street.

Your sponsor will help you and not wish you to help him/her as then you may not wish to be sponsored by them any more if you see their weakness.

You need an AA sponsor to be a tower of strength so should not think that they will unburden themselves to you as you can freely do with them. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

In fact, AA is about faith and common sense, which is why, perhaps, that it has been able to provide support for so many alcoholics and their families around the world.

How to Ask an AA Member to Sponsor you

My advice to you is to attend a number of meetings and just watch the members sharing. Focus on those who seem to be living good lives and are content in themselves. If they have what you want, chances are that they will make a good sponsor.

There is no mad rush to find a sponsor, obviously if you keep putting it off that is not good. However, do be sure of the person that you choose, ultimately they are going to help you stay sober so choosing well is important.

If after a bit of time you feel that you made the wrong choice then by all means find someone else. It's your life and it's your sobriety. Don't compromise it because you don't want to hurt the feelings of your sponsor.

It can seem like the hardest thing in the world to ask an AA member to take you on as a sponsor.

'What if they say no?' is a common barrier to asking somebody. So what if they say no, it's no reflection on you. There could be a thousand reasons as to why they refuse. Don't mull over it look for somebody else.

Support could come from individuals other than your sponsor. If you couldn’t find a sponsor, the next ideal thing is to reach out to another A.A. member that you could get support from.

And remember always go for someone whose recovery inspires you.

"If at any point you're struggling with your sobriety, speak to one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience, they have been in your shoes. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7."

AA Sponsor

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Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Alcoholics Anonymous. Questions and Answers on Sponsorship. https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf

Alcoholics Anonymous Milwaukee. Get a Sponsor. https://www.aamilwaukee.com/index.php?page=get-a-sponsor

Alcoholics Resource Center. Is It Okay to Date My AA Sponsor?. https://alcoholicsanonymous.com/is-it-okay-to-date-my-aa-sponsor/

Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. How to Find an AA Sponsor Online. https://www.aacle.org/how-to-find-an-aa-sponsor-online/

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