Fellow Traveler – This is the traditional method of ACA sponsorship. A person who is willing to share experience, strength, and hope in helping the sponsee work his or her way through the Twelve Steps and to pick up the recovery tools for facing life on life’s terms.
Temporary Sponsor – Serves as an interim sponsor for a short time until a permanent one is found.
Multiple Sponsors – More than one sponsor to serve various needs of the sponsee, as long as the sponsee isn’t hiding out in the various relationships. We don’t use multiple sponsors to avoid intimacy with one person or to “shop” for an opinion that we desire.
Co-Sponsors – Where two people are in agreement to sponsor each other. This model seems to work best for ACA members having significant time and experience in the program.
Long Distance Sponsors – This can work well for geographically isolated ACA members. There is mail, e-mail, telephone, tape recordings, and voice stream where distance or circumstances prevent person-to-person contact. Additionally, the Internet has made these long-distance relationships more meaningful. Some ACA members who are geographically isolated use online ACA meetings and live chat to work an ACA program. They use a private chat room or the telephone to do extensive Step work with a long-distance sponsor. In addition to the Steps, there can also be discussion and meaning found in the Twelve Traditions in this method of sponsorship.
ACA Meetings act as a sponsoring influence. The groups that sponsor a person indirectly usually emphasize the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, sponsorship, other program tools, and offer a well-stocked literature table with a phone list. The meetings are friendly and focus on recovery.
Step Study Groups that meet regularly to work the Steps together can provide indirect sponsorship.
Service Boards or Committees should not be used as a replacement for traditional sponsoring, but these boards and committees can mentor healthy behavior and offer sponsorship influence.
Source: pp. 374-375 of The Big Red Book of Adult Children of Alcoholics
How Do We Locate a Sponsor?
We go to different ACA meetings and listen to members sharing their experiences. In addition to meetings, we can look for a sponsor at conventions, retreats, and service activities. We find people who work a program, attend meetings, and have an understanding of ACA principles. We ask potential sponsors what they expect of their sponsees. As we listen to what we might be expected to do for our recovery, we remember how much effort we put into codependence and care-taking of others. Before recovery, some of us spent countless hours in resentment, losing sleep and cleaning up after someone in our codependent relationship. We usually worked long hours and paid all the bills. We rescued ungrateful people with our money or our time. We typically placed everyone else first. There were moments of exhaustion or near exhaustion. In some cases, our immune system was affected, and we became ill. No day was too long, and no amount of effort was too much. So as we listen to suggestions about attending meetings or working the Twelve Steps, we realize that recovery takes far less effort than the struggles of codependence.Next, we can ask for the person’s telephone number and call to talk about ACA. We see if we are comfortable talking with that person on the telephone. We might go through this process with two or three people. Eventually we ask one of them to be our sponsor. If we want to move at a slower pace , we might ask to meet that person at a restaurant to talk about expectations. We can talk about what sponsorship includes and what it does not include. It usually includes availability of time to do Step work and an exchange of mutual respect. In some cases, we might talk about a trial period to see if it works out. We can commit to a trial period of four to six weeks to see how it goes. At the end of the time period, we revisit the agreement.
As we talk with a potential sponsor, we get a sense of compatibility, but we avoid notions of perfectionism or the perfect match. Differences are not always a negative. We should not be too picky as long as the person is committed to ACA recovery and helping others.
When Should I Get a Sponsor?
Newcomers are encouraged to get a sponsor immediately. Oldtimers without sponsors are also encouraged to get a new perspective on their process from a peer sponsor.
Source: pp. 379-381 of The Big Red Book of Adult Children of Alcoholics
Click HERE for a printable PDF version of the ACA Sponsorship/Fellow Traveler trifold