One common element of recovery is to have a mentor or sponsor to support and encourage you in your recovery. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous include sponsors as a part of their recovery process.
Mentorship involves developing a one-on-one relationship with a person who has struggled with substance abuse and is now in recovery. However, it can be a little tricky to know where to find a mentor and how to ask them to mentor you. These tips can help you identify a mentor who can assist you in your recovery.
Attend and Participate in Meetings
Most commonly, the simplest place to identify a potential mentor is to attend recovery meetings. These opportunities can come at 12-step meetings, outpatient therapy, SMART Recovery programs or other meetings.
Attending and participating in meetings can help you to identify potential mentors. You can have conversations with other attendees and find some potential mentors who might be a good fit for you. It’s important to attend these meetings for long enough to learn about the other participants so you can decide who the best potential mentor is for you.
Identifying a Good Mentor
There are no explicit rules to define who would make a good sponsor, however there are some general considerations to make when choosing one. You should take into consideration how long your potential mentor has been in recovery. A sponsor should ideally have been in recovery for at least one year, although five years is also a common recommendation.
The longer someone has been in recovery, the more likely they are to be firmly established in their sobriety, and the more likely they are to be able to offer advice and guidance to help you navigate your own recovery. Your potential mentor should also be a person whom you can speak freely to and have a good rapport with. Usually, that mentor will have a mentor themselves.
Asking for Mentorship
Someone who is in recovery and attending meetings is probably accustomed to being asked to be a mentor. Sometimes a person may sponsor more than one individual at a time.
If you’ve identified a potential sponsor, the simplest thing do is often to just ask them if they would be willing to take on a new person. If they agree, they might ask to schedule a meeting or get-together to discuss the mentorship further. Your new mentor will most likely establish some ground rules, such as being able to call them at any time or agreeing to regularly get together to discuss challenges and triggers as necessary.
Acknowledge If the Mentorship Isn’t Working
A mentor shouldn’t be everything to your recovery. Attending meetings, seeing a therapist and practicing self-care measures are all critical to long-term success.
However, you should acknowledge it if a mentorship relationship is not working. Perhaps you don’t feel you can come to your sponsor with problems, or your sponsor hasn’t been available at times when you’ve truly needed them.
In these instances, it may be best to acknowledge that the relationship isn’t working well and that you need to find a new mentor. It’s not unusual to switch mentors throughout the recovery process. Finding the right person as a mentor can take time, but it is a worthwhile effort.