Being a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous is not only the duty but the privilege of AA members with approximately a year of sobriety. Being of service to other alcoholics is the basis of soberiety in AA and there is hardly a better way than to help out other alcoholic than to be their sponsor.

In case you are new to AA or unfamiliar with the role of a sponsor, I will describe what a sponsor is in my experience. There are no "rules" in AA (generally, we alcoholics are not too fond of rules), but suggestions. So the role of a sponsor varies from person to person, but there are basics that are in common among them. The role of a sponsor also varies with the length of time the person being sponsored has been sober. Also, the sponsor should be of the same sex as the person being sponsored - this makes it easier to discuss all facets of one's life and helps to avoid some complicated situations.

When sponsoring a newcomer that has just attended their first meeting, a sponsor will usually sit down and talk with the person to find out a little about them and what brought them to the doors of AA. Next the sponsor will want to ensure that the person is regularly attending a lot of meetings. Ninety meetings in ninety days is a great way for a newcomer to immerse themselves into AA. A sponsor may suggest certain meetings for the new person to attend or help to arrange rides for the person if needed.

Next the sponsor will want to set up a day and time to meet with the newcomer on a regular basis, my experience has always been on a weekly basis. This hour or two per week meeting is where the meat and potatoes of AA is served up. The sponsor will walk the person through the first 164 pages of the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. The first 164 pages describes the actions required by the Twelve Steps of AA.

It will take months of these weekly meetings to get through the first 164 pages of the Big Book. During this time working with a sponsor, a mutual respect and likely a true friendship evolves. Both the sponsor and the person being sponsored learn a lot about themselves during this process. It is this one on one experience, sharing of secrets you thought you would never tell anyone, that the recovering alcoholic truly grows and starts developing a new life. A trust is also grown that allows the person to be able to call their sponsor and ask them advice on aspects of their life when they are not sure what to do.

A sponsor's duty is not over just because they have covered the first 164 pages of the Big Book and he has walked another suffering alcoholic through the Twelve Steps of AA. This is just the beginning . These 12 Steps are not are not a process that one completes and then you "graduate", these steps need to constantly be applied to one's everyday life. They will never be done to perfection, hence the saying "progress not perfection".

Having had three sponsor's in the last 10 years and having sponsored many newcomers to the program, in my opinion, there is nothing more important to continued sobriety than sponsorship.