They Are What You Need: How to Find a Sponsor That is Right for You

After spending time in a rehabilitation facility or going through a drug detox, having someone who has gone through similar struggles to support you through your recovery is pivotal in making strides towards recovering from substance use disorder

A sponsor is someone who has lived experience and has been sober for at least a year, has completed the 12-step program, and acts as a mentor and guide during your recovery. There are many benefits to having a sponsor, and getting a sponsor early on in your recovery can improve your chances of being successful, so finding the right person is important. 

Attend Meetings

The easiest way to find a sponsor is to attend recovery support meetings in your local community. There you will find a group of people who all are striving towards living a happier and healthier life. You can probably get your hands on a list of people that are willing to become a sponsor by talking to the host of the meeting. 

Simply by talking to others at the meeting, you could meet someone who is willing to sponsor you. Connecting with others in your community helps to build a support system while you are working on yourself. It can feel intimidating to open up about your desire to find a sponsor, but the best thing you can do for yourself is speak up about it. Even if you mention it to just one person, words can travel fast. Plus, people want you to be successful, and if it’s mutually agreed upon that you will benefit from each other’s support, they want to see you recover. 

Find Someone Trustworthy

The point of having a sponsor is to feel comfortable enough opening up about your insecurities and fear surrounding the path to recovery. You might want to share intimate and serious thoughts with your sponsor, so comfort is essential. It can feel lonely and isolating to be alone with your thoughts, and a sponsor’s goal is to provide support to you without shame or judgement. 

You are supposed to feel comfortable confiding in your sponsor, so finding someone that you believe will maintain your confidentiality can be critical. If you don’t feel that something is working out between you and a sponsor, then trust your gut and find someone else. 

The comfort with each other should be mutually shared, so if one person feels that they are not benefiting, then the other won’t either. If you do believe that you need to find a new sponsor, it’s always best to meet with your current sponsor and end things in person and on good terms. 

Availability and Experience

If you are new to recovery, then you will want someone who is available to you most times during the day. Of course, around the clock support might not be possible, but someone who lets you call them up at 4:00 AM to share your inner turmoil in a voicemail with no questions asked is someone you want in your corner. 

It’s important to discuss with your potential sponsor if they have the time and space to take on a sponsee. If your potential sponsor has other people that they are sponsoring they might not have the time to take on an additional person. It’s especially important early on in your recovery to find someone with availability because you may not realize the amount of support you will need from them.

On the other hand, someone who is currently sponsoring people or has sponsored people in the past is someone who probably has the tools and experience to be beneficial in your recovery. It’s important that your sponsor has the experience to maintain a good mentor/mentee relationship. If you are new to things, you will want someone to guide you, rather than learning through your own trial and error. 

You want someone who understands accountability and maintains a confidential and beneficial partnership. If you are sponsored by someone who understands the process of recovery, and who has helped others like you, you can feel confident knowing that you are in good hands. 

Avoid Family and Romantic Partners

When finding a sponsor, there are certain people that you might want to avoid. While you might think that it would be easier for a family member or a romantic partner to be your sponsor, that’s not always the case. 

Just because you are with them all the time and feel comfortable with them, the comfort you feel with them is not the kind that you will receive from a sponsor. Because you will be sharing secrets and your inner thoughts with your sponsor, it might not be best to have a personal relationship with them. 

With family members, there might be things that you’d like to keep from them to preserve your relationship, so consider a sponsor who you did not know prior to your treatment or recovery. Similarly, being romantic or becoming romantic with your sponsor can make things complicated for your path to recovery. The main focus of the relationship you will have with a sponsor should be on recovering, and anything other than that will not benefit you. If you find yourself having feels for your sponsor, it might be time to find a new one, so that you can refocus on what’s actually important一your recovery.

Differences Can Be Good!

Sometimes someone who you have a lot in common with is not who you want to be your sponsor. When you find a sponsor who is not so similar to you, it’s easier to focus on your path to recovery. There are benefits to having a sponsor who has a different background than you. 

They offer a different perspective than what you’ve got, offering solutions you might not have thought of on your own. You want someone to be honest with you so that you can be as successful as possible in your recovery path. You want them to tell you how it is. A sponsor is meant to tell you things you don’t want to hear so that you can get better. 

Create a Plan and Stick To It!

Once you have found someone to be your sponsor, it’s time to come up with a plan that works for both of you, and stick to it! Being consistent will help you in your recovery. Planning to attend the same recovery meetings with your sponsor or finding a time for a weekly phone call to check-in with each other can be very helpful in maintaining communication with your sponsor. 

Consistency creates patterns, and these patterns can help you to focus on what works best for you in your recovery. If you feel that you need to change things up, talk to your sponsor to figure out what steps you can take to ensure your recovery.

In Summary

Finding the right sponsor can seem scary, but in the end, it’s completely worth it to find the person who is dedicated to helping you recover from your substance use disorder. You shouldn’t feel that you need to go through this challenge alone, and there are people who have been in the same situation as you that want to help. 

Make sure that you express to the people in your recovery meetings that you are in need of a sponsor because they will step up to help you. Find someone you can trust with your best interest in mind, someone who is available, and someone who knows what they are doing so that you are successful in your path to recovery.

 

Sources:

Recovery and Recovery Support | SAMHSA 

12 Step Programs: 12 Steps to Recovery for Drug & Alcohol Treatment | American Addiction Centers

Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships | AAMFT 

5 Tips to Stay Sober After Recovery Treatment

If you’re in recovery, congratulations. You of all people know how difficult it was to get to this point, and now that you’ve made it, it’s time to focus on staying sober. There are many things you can do to help you stay sober after leaving a rehabilitation facility, but consistency is key. Find what works for you and stick to it!

1. Stay Away From Triggers and Old Habits

If you want to stay committed to recovering from your substance use disorder, it’s important that you recognize your triggers and old habits. There might be moments where you find yourself in a place that you recognize and have bad memories in. You might see someone or hear someone’s name that you associate with your substance use and it might send you into a spiral. 

Learning what places, topics, and names trigger you can help you avoid them altogether to avoid the feelings that come with. Seeing people use, struggling financially, or having relationship issues can all be triggering while in recovery. It’s in your best bet to avoid being around those who use, and to find support from family and friends during turmoil.

You might recognize too that you have internal triggers that aren’t associated with places or things, but rather different thoughts and memories that you associate with your substance use. Often, stress can be a major trigger and there is a desire to use substances when under immense stress. 

Avoiding old habits, like hanging out with certain groups and going to certain places that you used to go to, can be helpful in staying sober. If you take yourself out of the spaces that used to harm you, you are giving yourself a better shot at staying sober in recovery. 

2. Build Healthy Relationships to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

If you haven’t already, cutting off toxic relationships from the life you lived while using is one way to maintain the healthy lifestyle you strive for after recovery. In the process of cutting off toxic people, you should be putting effort into building healthy relationships with those around you that want to see you happy and healthy. Focus on rebuilding relationships with family and friends that you strayed from during your substance use to ensure that you have a network of support behind you throughout your recovery. 

When you build healthy relationships, you are proving that you want to stay sober. Your friends and family will see you trying your hardest to get better. You’ll feel better about your future knowing you have the support you’ll need. There are sober support groups for those who are struggling to find healthy relationships if those around you still use substances. Finding your people will help you to stay sober, because they will push you to maintain your sobriety goals.

3. Focus on Finances and Structure

Many people that are in recovery for substance use disorder have struggled or currently struggle with financial problems. Using substances means spending money, and it can be hard to recover from any debt you might be in, as well as learn ways to be financially independent and responsible. 

There are many aftercare programs that you can go to to help you build structure within your life. At these programs the focus is often on maintaining finances, coping skills, and social interaction. If you feel that you need more structure, an aftercare program might be extremely beneficial, as it holds you accountable and teaches you ways to stay sober and be consistent about it.

Before you began your sober life, you might have felt that you had no schedule and no real responsibilities. If you develop a schedule for yourself, you can reach your goals a bit easier. Knowing what your day to day looks like can help to avoid those moments where you are left doing nothing but thinking about substance use. Keeping yourself busy and motivated helps immensely in the recovery process. 

4. Heal From Past Mistakes

It’s hard to escape memories of you hurting those close to you due to your substance use, but not being able to learn from your mistakes will hold you back in your path to recovery. If you’re trying to stay sober, remember that no matter what you’ve done in the past, the only thing that you can control is your future. 

You have the ability to use your past as a catalyst for change. Many people experience shame and embarrassment when they reflect on their past experiences surrounding substance use, but if you’re able to heal from your mistakes, then that shame and embarrassment will manifest as a drive to be better. 

When you apologize and reconcile with you those that you’ve hurt in the past you’re showing them that you are changed. Holding yourself accountable is healing. People recognize the strength that it takes to say, “I’m sorry.” The more people you heal with, the more people that will be there to support you while you stay sober. 

5. Celebrate Your Recovery Success

It’s no small feat to commit to living a sober lifestyle and be successful at it. You deserve to feel accomplished for changing your life around. This lifestyle change is not easy, so don’t believe that your perseverance is anything less than worth celebrating. Becoming sober can feel like you are losing out, but soon you will realize that it’s the opposite. You will feel better by staying sober.

Whether it be 24 hours, two weeks, or three years, your ability to stay strong throughout the process and commit to being sober is something that should be acknowledged. Milestones are important when it comes to recovery. 

When you acknowledge these milestones, you are further motivating yourself to continue on in the process of recovery. For all the time that you spent beating yourself up about your substance use, you should be celebrating the moments in which you have taken back your life.

Success should not be taken lightly. Be proud of how far you have come, so that you are motivated to keep up the good work.

In Summary

Everyone deals with recovery from substance use in their own way. Every person must figure out what works and what doesn’t work for them, where they can go if they need support, and how to maintain sobriety on their own. It’s important to remain consistent in whatever you choose because as soon as you waiver, so does your motivation to stay sober. Make sure to avoid stressors that can lead to relapsing, and don’t be ashamed to reach out to someone you love for help. 

Taking back your life means also learning how to be a functional human in society, so taking control over your finances and creating a schedule can help to maintain sobriety. Being sober, you begin to feel more in control of your life. It’s not worth it to lose that control. Seek professional help if you believe that you need it. You know yourself best, so trust you gut, and live your life healthy and substance-free.

 

Sources:

Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder) | Mayo Clinic

Recovery and Recovery Support | SAMHSA  

In Recovery | Start Your Recovery 

Quitting is Hard! A Guide to Developing a Relapse Plan

Diverse women stacking hands on wooden table

Throughout your path to recovery from substance use disorder, you may find yourself looking back at the possibility of relapsing. This is a fear that many people in recovery deal with daily and there is no need to feel shame in allowing for the thought to slip in. 

The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility of a relapse is to fully equip yourself with all the right tools to battle it. It’s much easier to slip back into using than it is to stay sober, but preparing for the worst will help you stay successful in your recovery. Read on to learn more about developing a guide for a relapse plan. 

What is a Relapse Plan?

A relapse plan is a physical plan that you create to help you if you are in the stages of relapse. This plan can specify certain triggers, different ways to help ground you, and people to contact in case of emergencies. 

It’s helpful to share a relapse plan with the people you love and your treatment team because they are the ones who are most likely to notice if anything that you’ve included is starting to happen. The main point of a relapse plan is to help you learn when the behaviors that you are exhibiting could be taken into consideration as the beginning stages of relapse.

Stages of Relapse

Relapses don’t happen overnight. There are three stages of a relapse that you can become aware of to help prevent it from happening: emotional, mental, and physical. 

As each stage passes by without getting the proper treatment or doing the work to unload where your feelings are coming from, they are leading you to the same outcome. Luckily there are ways that you can begin to prevent your stages from evolving into the next.

Emotional

An emotional relapse will lead you to feelings of sadness in regards to your progress, shame from your last relapse, and numbness to the reality of your situation. People who begin to experience emotional relapse don’t want to repeatedly relapse, but because they are dwelling on the past, they aren’t emotionally available to consciously think about staying sober.

Mental

People who are experiencing a mental relapse have constant turmoil inside of their minds. They want to use as much as they don’t want to use. They feel weak and like they aren’t fully in control of their actions. When you become addicted to a substance, it’s not like you can forget how it feels to use, so it takes a lot of mental energy to work on letting those feelings go when the memories arise.

Physical

A physical relapse is when someone has finally come to the point of using again. At this point, their mental turmoil has overcome them and they aren’t able to fight their urges. This can either be a moment of weakness where they work towards getting better afterwards, receiving the proper care, or it can become a full relapse where they begin to use in an uncontrolled manner.

How to Create a Relapse Plan

There are many formats to create your own relapse plan. Typically, you need to first recognize the signs of relapsing. Once you are aware of what they look like, you can notify those around you as well so they can look for them too. 

You want to make things as easy as possible for the future you who is probably not doing very well if they are referring to their relapse plan. When you lay out exactly how things should be done if you were to relapse, you’re making it easiest for those around you to ensure your safety by knowing how to properly take care of you.

Create a Step-by-Step Plan

You need to come up with a plan to divert your attention from relapsing. When there is something that triggers you into wanting to use, or you begin to have guilt and shame when you think about old memories, find things that you can supplement for a distraction other than using. 

In your plan, you should aim to lay out certain scenarios that you believe might trigger a relapse. If you come up with a plan on how to act if those issues arise, then you and your loved ones can feel better knowing that you have ways that you can cope. 

Determine Your Personal Signs of Relapse

There are different ways that the beginning stages of a relapse could show and it’s specific to each individual person. You know you best, so when you notice certain places or names begin to trigger you, take note of that so you can include it in your plan. 

You want to have a set of written triggers, so that others around you can be made aware of what not to do around you. People that love you will want to help you in any way they can, so this information is very helpful. Some people begin to act very differently before a relapse, as they are becoming overstimulated by triggers that they aren’t getting any assistance for. 

You should also consider what might’ve set off a prior relapse so that you can avoid it, as well as let others know to avoid certain words or actions when around you. You might want to avoid certain places, so letting your loved ones know in advance where you don’t want to go can be helpful when planning normal everyday outings. Being prepared is the best thing that you can be, and you don’t want triggers to be dictating your daily life.

Prevention

A part of your relapse plan should be a bit about prevention methods that you believe would work for you in the case that you slip into a relapse. Feel free to have a running list of different management methods to help you stay sober, like:

  • Self Care: If you enjoy getting your nails done, get them! If you like to take a hot shower whenever you’re feeling stressed out, you should. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, put it on your list to remind yourself to take care of your body and mind.
  • Deep Breathing: Sometimes you begin to feel a loss of control over yourself when you slip into a relapse. There are ways to ground yourself to try to gain that control back. Deep breathing is a great way to do this, and it can be done anywhere. 
  • Calling a Friend: If you feel that you need to talk to someone or else you might fall back into using, having someone who you know you can talk to is helpful to prevent relapses. Taking the weight off yourself and allowing for someone else to listen can be very rewarding in your recovery process.
  • Visit Soba Recovery: If you feel that you need treatment support, visit us here at Soba Recovery. We offer drug and alcohol addiction recovery treatment in both Mesa, AZ, and San Antonio, TX. Visit our website for more information or give us a call to learn more about our addiction treatment programs!

In Summary

It’s really hard to quit, but you don’t have to do it alone or without thought. Make a plan and stick to it. Let others in your life become aware of the plan so they can aid you in your recovery. You’ve come so far, don’t let a relapse set you back. 

 

Sources:

Focus: Addiction: Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery | NCBI

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders | SAMHSA 

Relapse Prevention | Mayo Clinic