Sponsor Responsibilities and Approval

by Silvia
(Irvine, California)

My husband of 30 years is working on his alcohol problem and has moved out and sought help. It has been over 3 months since I have spoken to him. I am now in need of having a conversation with him as his absence relates to our children and our family. He has stated through his mother that he needs to contact his Sponsor and get his sponsor’s approval before he can call me because the program discourages talking with me. Can you clarify?

Thank you in advance.


Thank you for asking this question. It sounds like it’s getting pretty frustrating trying to keep your husband as a part of your family. Addiction has an unfortunate tendency to pull families apart, sometimes even when they do not want it. That’s what I am hearing anyway, that this has been going on for a while, and it’s to the point now where you feel like something needs to change.

I am a little uncertain about how to answer your question properly. You said that he has moved out and sought help for his alcohol addiction. I’m not sure if this means that he is in a residential addiction treatment facility, or if he is, for example, living with his mother, and attending AA, trying to get sober that way. There will be different answers depending on which one it is.

In an addiction treatment facility, there are often quite many rules designed to help provide structure and stability to a person whose life is in general, out of control. These include having a daily schedule of meals, activities, even a lights out bedtime. This often does include limits on phone calls or visitors, for example, they may only be able to get or make phone calls on certain days at certain times.

The focus isn’t on punishing people or keeping them away from their families, it’s to help their minds and bodies start to get back to how they were before addiction. Typically there are exceptions made when there is an emergency, so if there is something vital that your husband needs to talk to you, they often will allow this. Remember this will vary from center to center and may differ based on the individual needs of your husband.

The way you worded the question makes me wonder if he is just attending a support group, like AA. There is nothing wrong with using recovery groups as a tool to aid in recovery. It needs to be said that the best chances of recovery come from using both recovery groups and an addiction treatment facility.

It’s not out of the ordinary for a sponsor to offer their guidance and input into what a person in recovery should do. They may encourage their sponsee to avoid certain people until they have been in recovery long enough, which may be what’s happening. Without hearing their end, it’s hard to understand what the reasoning may be for this, although it seems unusual considering what you want to talk to him about. What it sounds like on your end, however, is that you have to talk with him about your kids, and this is getting thwarted everywhere.

This sounds like a very troubling situation. While I am happy he is seeking help for his drinking, it also seems odd that there is no contact with you after a few months. It may be helpful to try to arrange a meeting on neutral ground, a counselor’s office, coffee shop, with his sponsor, but something where the two of you can talk. There sounds like a lot that needs to be said, and perhaps trying to make it happen somewhere safe will give you the best chances of him agreeing to it. Good luck and I hope that helps.

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