What if I can’t find a sponsor? Can I stay sober, too?

Discussions related to 12 Step Sponsors, 12 Step Sponsoring, Working with others using the 12 Steps, for AA's, NA's, Al-Anons, Nar-Anons, OA, and others using the 12 Steps.
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What if I can’t find a sponsor? Can I stay sober, too?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:19 am

What if I can’t find a sponsor? -- Can I stay sober, too?

First – I’d like to say that I strongly believe in sponsorship. I have been very fortunate to have had great sponsorship. And, I highly suggest sponsoring and sponsorship. I’m also a strong advocate of attending A.A. meetings.

What does an alcoholic do – that has a desire to stay sober, and there is no one that he/she can choose for a sponsor?

For those of us who have had the luxury of getting sober in areas that were, or are highly populated with sober members of A.A., and with hundreds or thousands of meetings to choose from – we often forget and/or we often do not realize that there are still many areas here in the USA and around the globe – that have no A.A. meetings, and there are no sober members of A.A. around for someone to choose for a sponsor.

Can the alcoholic stay sober without a sponsor? Can the alcoholic stay sober without A.A. meetings?

Through this website – I am blessed with the opportunity of hearing from more than a hundred alcoholics each day, who are searching for help. Sometimes, they are just trying to find meetings in areas that they will be visiting. Some want to find A.A. for the first time. Some are requesting 12 Step calls for friends or family members, or for themselves. Sometimes, they have never even heard of A.A.

About two years ago – I was contacted by a person in a remote area of South Africa who found an old copy of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. He had never heard of A.A. He was a heavy drinker and it was causing him problems and the book peaked his curiosity. He had Internet access and began a search to find out if A.A. was still in existence. And, to try to find out of there were still alcoholics getting sober or staying sober by using the methods in the book. There were no A.A.’s in his area. No meetings. No Central Office. No District Committee. No Intergroup. No sponsors available. Could he get sober and stay sober in South Africa without the luxury of meetings and sponsorship? Those were his concerns and his questions.

A little over a year ago – I was contacted by someone in Russia, with the same concerns. And, at least once each week – I’m contacted by someone in the USA, in the same situation. Often, they would have to travel 300 or 400 miles (one-way) just to get to an A.A. meeting that meets one day per week – or, two days per month! How could they possibly go to a meeting every day? How could they find a sponsor?

I often wonder – how many others there are – without Internet access, perhaps no telephones, and in remote areas – where there is no A.A. to be found.

Back in 1939, when our book, Alcoholics Anonymous was first published – if an alcoholic didn’t live near Akron, Cleveland, New York, New Jersey, or Philly – there were no A.A. meetings that they could attend. There were no sponsors. Their only hope at that time – was to obtain a mail-order copy of the Big Book – (which was not sold in book stores). It could take a few weeks for their letter to reach New York, requesting a Big Book, and another few weeks for the Big Book to arrive in the mail. If the reader had any questions – they would have to write a letter to the Alcoholic Foundation office in New York – and wait several weeks for a reply. How could an alcoholic get sober and stay sober under these conditions?

The fact is – and the facts were – that alcoholics were getting copies of the Big Book, and reading the book, they would attempt to follow the instructions in the book. They were all alone. No help. No fellowship. No meetings. No meetings after the meetings. No sponsor. AND -- MANY WERE STAYING SOBER!!!!

Of all the chapters in the Big Book – there is no chapter on meetings. There is no chapter on how to stop drinking. There is no chapter on how to pick a sponsor. There is a chapter titled “Working with othersâ€

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Postby carol1017 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:26 pm

Excellent post, Dallas!

I might add that there are a number of workbooks and additional materials available to those who might try to do the steps on their own.

Some people (especially younger people, it seems) find the writing in the Big Book archaic and difficult to understand. I have found "Big Book Unplugged" by John R. very helpful.

Women may find the Big Book hard to relate to, because so much of the focus is on men. "A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps" by Stephanie Covington (with workbook) is a great supplement to the Big Book.

And of course, "The Little Red Book" and workbook from Hazelden are old standbys.

While these may not be Conference-approved, I have found all of these to be very helpful. I think anything that helps us to stay sober and to work the steps is worthwhile.

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Postby Susan » Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:20 pm

I agree, you can get sober. When I made it to my first meeting it was a discussion and I knew I was in the right place. I was so sick!!! that when I asked someone to be my sponsor they would say NO. I kept coming to the discussion meetings and doing the steps. At about 4months sober I found a sponsor. I thought I was going to have to go it alone but I was willing to. Just about everyone in my home group was my sponsor. I have been sober since. In fact today I was at a conference and I was the only person with 14 years. I was grateful to be there. :D

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Postby Spiritman » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:52 am

"The Little Red Book"
When I read the above title I could not believe I was reading it.
This is a bit out of the AA realm, but the Little Red Book did help me get sober and stay sober.

The first time I started reading it was in the sixth grade... The nun called my dad and asked him to have me leave the book at home. My dad informed me that I could read it at home any time I wanted to, "Don't take it to school."

Here is a quote from the Little Red Book that has helped me practice Step 12 before I knew there was Step 12.

"We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man's ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already nobleminded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people." “Little Red Bookâ€

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Postby Spiritman » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:58 am

My intention may be miss understood: I will share the AA life, not the quote I learned in the sixth grade and just posted!

The Spiritman

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My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic

Postby musicmode » Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:37 pm

There are many people out there who have not heard of AA. There are many, too, such as sea-goers, homers, loners, those in remote areas of the planet, who are staying sober because they are willing to go to any length. It's "easier" today, to stay in contact with other alcoholics because of this lovely little contraption in front of us, there are many, too though, who do not have a computer. There is another angle some of you may not be aware of, that is besides the Grapevine and Box 4-5-9, it is a little yellow newsletter type of bulletin titled: AA Loners-Internationalists Meeting. This gives us an avenue to help those via snail mail. The bulletin is sent out every couple of months, and you do not have to be a homer, loner or sea-goer in order to be a part of this 'group'. We are welcome to "pen-pal" with other members who are not able to get to a meeting. This was started by a fella by the name of Captain Jack many moons ago, and is still going strong today. For those of us who are able to get to live meetings, and have access to internet meetings, we are most welcome to become a part of the Loners-Internationalist Meeting, so that we can share what we've heard and learned with others. To become a part of this, for anyone who might be interested, simply write to head office: Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY; 10163. This bulletin is a confidential bulletin. The names and addresses listed in the bulletins are to be used only by LIM (Loners-Internationalists Meeting) members.

Another thing that is happening is, meetings over the phone ### the "telephone therapy" that we are to all use ####, what this is, is, lets say your group in Little Rock, connects by phone to a group in, lets say, Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, and together, you have a meeting over the phone.

There are so many ways to use AA., we just have to be willing to go to any length to carry the message :wink: . And, head office...well...they've thought of all of us out here :wink: .

In the Spirit of the fellowship,

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Postby MikeM1968 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:41 am

Great post. I also agree that no sponsor would be best than a bad sponsor. Looking back I was very blessed to have a good sponsor when I was a newcomer and into my 2nd and some of my third year. I'm now around 4 - 1/2 yrs and haven't had an official "sponsor" for over a year.

There are meetings in my area and I do attend regularly. It's just that now I have a much better idea of who God made me to be and where God wants me to go in life. So G.O.D. for me is Good Orderly Direction. The steps help me to stop doing all those other things that would lead me back to a drink.

I still need the fellowship because I might start believing my problems are unique to myself again and begin isolating again.

I had to grasp the concept that AA is not a social club or a dating service. When I first came in I tried to make friends with just about anyone that would have me. I got hurt a few times, because I was still sick. I still was trying to "play" with the wrong types of people (granted people that were in recovery). I wasn't being selective.

It was important that I just hung-out with sober / clean people and that that was the only requirement I looked for. I've learned that some people (even with many more years than myself) are much sicker than myself and simply have nothing to offer me in the way of help, or even friendship outside the rooms of AA.

I was "fired" by my first sponsor when I began living my life again. He helped me alot and I still consider him a great friend, but I have a relationship with a higher power that sponsorship cannot replace today.


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Postby Dallas » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:29 am

Mike, thanks for sharing.


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Postby garden variety » Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:02 am

Hi Mike,

I don't think a sponsor is intended to replace a Higher Power. Good Orderly Direction for me must come from a "Good Orderly Director". What I also need to stay sober AND content is the spiriitual principle behind the fifth step which is ACCOUNTABILITY. I don't know how or where it's written or worded, but ACCOUNTABILITY has always been a cornerstone of AA.

I have a sponsor because I was taught it is necessary to be accountable to another human being. For that other human being to fill that role, he needs to know both the good and the bad about me. He learns over time those quiet things about me - like certain ways I fix my eyebrows, or the differences in the volume of my voice when I talk. He becomes accustomed to me by hearing from me or seeing me regularly. The cool part is that he doesn't even know this is what he is doing.

But if that "peculiar way of thinking" comes into play that can lead me away from the spiritual program of action, those quiet things about me change. Call it "body language". Every sponsor that I've had can pick up on things that are troubling me very early on, and the sponsor that's doing his job faithfully confronts me with what he's observed. Then I can either lie or deny, which will bring me closer to a drink, or I can reflect about what he's told me which will allow me to grow or get back on course.

The way I understand it, this is something unique to a sponsor's role: Accountability to another human being. It's also something that a realtionship with a Higher Power cannot replace or substitute for. It does me no good whatsover to have my head in heaven if my feet are not on the ground. That's what a good sponsor will do for me. For me, it's a unique kind of relationship that I would never want to do without - just like my relationship with God is one I would never again want to do without.

The trouble is for me, and for most other alcoholics, is that when it all comes down to a simple reason, we don't want a sponsor. We don't want to be accountable. It's all part of that "peculiar mental twist" common to the illness of alcoholism. If left to his own devices, an alcoholic will not follow "Good Orderly Direction" if there is no "Good Orderly Director". He'll just lie to himself and enter the make-believe world of delusion.

There is no such thing to me as a "bad sponsor" if he is keeping me accountable. If my sponsor "fires" me, and I don't stop a minute and look at that reason real close - if I don't do a "mini-4th step" inventory and figure out my role in that sponsor's action - then I'm slowly turning away from the recovery program. I'm taking the spiritual tools of "reflection" from step 4 and "accountability" from step 5 out of my toolbox. I'm working a program "cafeteria style". Problems are bound to happen that will need those tools, and what happens if I took them out of my toolkit?

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." If I am thoroughly following this path, I'll hang all my objections to sponsorship out on that cross where the "old man" who used alcohol as his solution to life should be hanging if I did the third step today. If my relationship with God is right, nothing any man can say or do will do anything to me but give me more experience, strength, and hope.

So what I'm admitting to is this. I won't beat around the bush. I don't want a sponsor. I don't want to listen to what a sponsor has to say. I don't want to do the things they suggest. I don't want to follow a spiritual program of action. I don't want to help my fellow. And I sure as hell don't want anything to do with "discipline". OK?

And the "new freedom and new happiness" I enjoy today just tells me quite simply, "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do."

It doesn't matter what I don't want to do. What matters is that I get the choice to do these things. I get to have another human being to keep me accountable so that my illness doesn't fool me into picking up again. I get to follow "sane" and "sound" suggestions by fellow humans and by a Higher Power that have consistently brought about GREAT EVENTS for me and countless others. I get to learn "discipline" so that I can do the very best job that God gave me to do. And that job is to be the best Paul M. there ever was today.

This is serious business for me. God gives me a job to do every day, and when I do that job to the best of my ability, I get a paycheck that is unlimited. The digits go off the charts. I get lifetime benefits that might even extend into whatever happens after life ends, not that that matters. I get today and the joy that is in today.

This is my job which is the best job in the world. I wake up and look forward to it. I go out into my world and all I have to do is take some simple actions that make living look attractive to other folks. These can be any actions that my Principal would do. Like the book says, God is my Principal and I am His agent. My only job is to accurately "represent" my Principal and look out for His best interests. What's easy about this is that my best interests and your best interests and our fellows best interest are His best interests. How could it be simpler? Oh, and I do one more thing - I "seek" or look for countless "treasures" that my Principal sneaks and hides in places where I least expect - that gives some days more adventure and fun.

The pay and benefits? Unlimited. Whatever my heart desires is what my Principal promises me, and that is exactly what I get.

-Honesty, Openmidedness, and Willingness
-The Big Book and the Fellowship, which means to me belonging to a Home Group and listening to a sponsor along with meetings
-The Twelve suggested Steps
-A God of my understanding

All of this equals a "Design for Living that really works" for this alcoholic, and for countless others.

So it becomes easier every day to do certain things I don't necessarily want to do.

God bless

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Postby Jackie » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:07 pm

This topic is of particular interest to me as someone fairly new to the program.
When I came to AA there was some very sound suggestions given to me

90 meetings in 90 days
see a counselor
get a sponsor

As I'm serious about my commitment to my sobriety I did follow thru with the suggestions, but I adapted some of this to my finances and my responsibilites to my family and my job. This may rub someone the wrong way but I am sober and regaining some of my sanity along with a certain amount of serenity.
I did the 90 days but they were not consecutive,I reserved Saturdays as a day for my family. It took a little longer but it was worth doing as it kept me focused and gave me time to learn the ways of AA.
I did see a couselor for a month but could not afford the fees, the free
counselling was in direct conflict with my work hours. The counseller gave me the ground work to continue on in the program and I feel it was money well spent.
The SPONSOR thing had me in a dilema for quite sometime as there simply wasn't anyone who I felt comfortable with. After some searching and thought I asked a person whom I knew previously (never dreamt she would be in the same position as myself a fellow drunk) Goes to show you just never know do you?
Now this is where it gets a bit strange, we seldom ever talk on the phone or go out for coffee, we meet at meetings or phone to see if we'd like to meet at a different meeting. Her home group is different than mine and we both attend each others meetings.
For me it is the knowledge that if I ever have a "I wanna drink" crisis she will be there for me no matter what. But for the most part I prefer to read the forums if I feel something is bugging my butt, there is a gold mine of knowledge, encouragement and commonsense that is passed on from some very wise old timers and sometimes I even run into someone that is newer than I am, and learn to be grateful for what I have gained in my short sobriety and hope to become an oldtimer.
This is probably not a perfect solution but it is working for me and I am moving ahead, albeit slowly, but sober I am and a lot more in tune with life than I have been for Years. I get to enjoy sunrise and sunset without the crutch of alcohol and its pretty awesome! And guess what? I can even remember without shame or remorse what I did yesterday!

Keep coming back!
Jackie and I''m an alcholic

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