What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion, Sober Coach, or Recovery Coach?

A sober companion, sober coach, or recovery coach provides one-on-one assistance to newly recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The goal is to help the client maintain total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and to establish healthy routines outside of a residential treatment facility. Sober coaches assist with the transition from treatment back to everyday living. The sober coach will meet the client at discharge, accompany them on their trip home, and within 24 hours, attend with them their first AA or NA meeting.

What are the Duties of a Sober Companion?

The sober companion’s duties encompass a wide variety, from ensuring that the client remains abstinent to serving as a resource broker and advocate in the client’s home community.

The primary duty of a sober companion is to ensure the recovering addict does not relapse. They may be hired to provide round the clock care, be on-call, or to accompany the recovering addict during particular activities, such as taking them to fellowship meetings at which the recovery coach encourages them to meet people and get phone numbers. They work together with the client in making their home a clean and sober environment, as well support the client in following through with their recommended discharge plan.

A sober companion also acts as an advocate for the newly recovering person and provides new ways for the client to act in their own living environment. Many companions use techniques such as chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, meditation, distraction, massage, diet and proper nutrition, exercise and even prayer and affirmation of sober choices. A sober coach either completely removes the addict from his own environment of hidden stashes, or may search for hidden drugs in their own environment, in an effort to make the living environment safe for the client and to prevent them from relapsing

How Long Does Sober Companion Services Last?

Companions are available to assist clients for as long as support is deemed necessary. Sober companion treatment usually lasts for 30 days however, oftentimes, much longer. The time required to effect a meaningful change varies greatly depending upon the client, their co-occurring disorders, and the family life at home. Ideally, a companion’s presence in the client’s life will decrease as the client’s ability to confront family, work, and legal issues without relapse is proven. Some providers stay with their clients for many months, and some offer only transportation services.

The Benefits of Having a Sober Companion

The first few days outside of the structured treatment setting are typically the most critical – and most trying for the newly recovering alcoholic/addict. This transitional period is often awkward and uncomfortable for the recovering person therefore, sober companionship and coaching offers support, encouragement, and camaraderie during this crucial time.

Other circumstances for which having a sober coach is beneficial are cases where an actor or musician will not attend treatment, but must remain abstinent to complete a film or recording project. Another circumstance might be that the newly recovering alcoholic/addict is in school and thus needs to be back in their own living environment.










How to be non-judgmental towards your Sponsee

How to be non-judgmental towards your Sponsee

How to be non-judgmental towards your Sponsee

Being judgmental is a part of human behavior. Unfortunately when we are judgmental it creates a division between us and other people. The same goes when you are judgmental towards your sponsee, that judgment creates a division between you making it almost impossible for them to connect with you on a deeper level. The best way to remain non-judgmental towards your sponsee is to remember you once were exactly where they were. You weren’t always the recovered sponsor, at one point you were the new sponsee.

If you find yourself passing judgment on your sponsee here are some ways to be non-judgmental towards your sponsee:

  1. Don’t pass judgment – This sounds redundant and probably fairly obvious but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you find yourself being judgmental towards your sponsee, stop yourself. It takes a lot of awareness or greater awareness rather than we usually have. So the first step to be non-judgmental towards your sponsee is to observe your thoughts when you are with them, while trying to notice if you are being judgmental. Remind yourself to observe. Once you are more aware of when you are being judgmental you can begin to stop yourself.
  2. Understand -Understanding is the opposite of judgment. Instead of judging your sponsee for what he or she has done, how they look, their actions; try to understand them. Put yourself in your sponsee’s shoes. Try to imagine your sponsee’s background. Talk to them and see if you can get them to open up about their story. This can really help with being non-judgmental towards your sponsee. You may find that the things you were judging them for actually have circumstances behind them that explain or have led your sponsee to acting like they do.
  3. Acceptance – Once you find understanding with your sponsee or at least you think you can kind of understand; which you should because you have been where they are, accept them for who they are without trying to change them. Your job as sponsor isn’t to judge your sponsees anyway, your job is to be a non-judgmental friend and support for them. Accept your sponsee for who they are and don’t try to change them. Accept that they will act the way they do and that it isn’t your place to change them but rather just to be there to help. The world is the way it is and as much as you can try to change the people in it, including your sponsees, no one can change another person. If you can find acceptance you are well on your way to being non-judgmental towards your sponsee.
  4. Love – Loving your sponsees rather than judging them will have an effect on you both. Loving others will make you happier and them. Loving your sponsee can change their life and your own. If you can accept your sponsee for who they are you can love them. Love them as a brother, sister, daughter, etc. It doesn’t matter their background, how they act, what they say etc. Just love them. If you do this then being non-judgmental towards your sponsees not only will help them but will help you too.

Should a Sponsor Randomly Drug Test Sponsees?

Drug Testing

Should a Sponsor Randomly Drug Test Sponsees?

What is a sponsor?

Sponsors are a term used by 12 step fellowships. Sponsors are not authority figures they are merely recovered addicts and alcoholics who have worked 12 steps and now have a relationship with a higher power. What sponsors do is take other individuals who have not worked 12 steps and help them, these individuals are known as sponsees. Sponsors are not meant to tell sponsees what to do but are meant to offer suggestions. A sponsor’s main purpose is to just be as helpful as they can to their sponsees, there is no better than or less than, and also to take them through 12 steps exactly as they went through 12 steps. Everyone who is sponsoring has been a sponsee at some point and they have a sponsor of their own.

So should a sponsor randomly drug test sponsees?
The answer to this question is a resounding no. A sponsor should never randomly drug test a sponsee. In fact a sponsor should never drug test a sponsee ever. Drug testing a sponsee is not the purpose of a sponsor. If the sponsee needs drug testing there will be other people in the sponsee’s life who will do the drug testing. The sponsor is merely another addict and alcohol trying to help and share their experience. Sponsors do not force sponsees to get sober nor do they interfere with a sponsees life in such a direct manner. Sponsors are there for support but they are not meant to be an overshadowing, authority figure that sponsees have to answer to.

Good sponsorship doesn’t need drug testing because the sponsees of any sponsor will be comfortable enough to tell them if they did relapse or end up using again. If sponsees don’t tell their sponsor that they relapsed then that is part of their journey which they must experience. Sponsors are not looking for anything from sponsees except for willingness. If a sponsee isn’t willing to do anything such as being honest about using or drinking a gain than that has nothing to do with the sponsor. The sponsor takes a sponsee through 12 steps. That is it. No drug tests. Sponsors randomly drug testing sponsees crosses boundaries and defeats the purpose of what a sponsor is trying to do. Also a sponsor is not above their sponsees they are exactly the same and they are on equal footing. For a sponsor to drug test sponsees implies that they are better than or are more responsible than their sponsee. This is not the impression that a sponsor wants to give. With sponsoring and sponsees it really is just two addicts and alcoholics sitting down and talking to each other. Nothing more and nothing less. This is where the magic happens and there doesn’t have to be drug testing for this to happen. The 12 step program which termed sponsors and sponsees did so because the way addicts and alcoholics recover is through sitting down and talking to other addicts and alcoholics. They can finally realize they are not alone. Drug testing would create a distance between sponsor and sponsee that defeats the purpose.

Being Transparent With Your Sponsee

Being transparent with your sponsee

Today during my morning reading, I came across a chapter that was all about the spiritual importance of transparency. Being open and sharing your true self with others, it said, was essential in order to clear the blockages caused by ego and truly open yourself to spiritual growth. I reflected on how important transparency is for addicts and alcoholics in particular.

Being transparent with your sponsee: What is transparency?

Before we get into the importance of being transparent with your sponsee, it’s probably best if I clarify what I mean by “transparent.” Transparency can be used in a lot of different contexts- to describe business dealings, government operations, or even material. When I talk about transparency, I’m talking about spiritual transparency. To me, spiritual transparency means being open and honest with the people around you. It means practicing what you preach. Transparency goes further than just “letting things go.” It means not holding on to those things in the first place.

Lack of transparency blocks us off from spirituality and connecting with other people. It is based in fear and self-doubt. We become blocked from others and we become anxious, uncomfortable, self-conscious, and/or frightened. We try to control the things around us.

Being transparent with your sponsee: We are as sick as our secrets

Often in AA, I’ve heard the phrase “Our secrets keep us sick.” or “We are only as sick as our worst secret.” More often than not, when someone relapses and comes back, and I ask them why, they tell me it’s because there was something they left off their fourth step. Instead of being completely transparent, they held something back.

This is one of the biggest reasons it is so important to be transparent with my sponsees. If I am not transparent with them, how will they feel comfortable being completely transparent with me? If they are not transparent with me, what are their chances of staying sober?

Transparency makes accountability possible. You can only be accountable for where you’re going, what you’re doing and how you’re spending your money if you are 100% honest.  A sponsor or other sober friend can help you spend your money on right things rather than your addiction–but only if you don’t lie to him or her about it.

Being transparent with your sponsee: Primary purpose

Our primary purpose as active members of Alcoholics Anonymous is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. We cannot carry a true message if we are not transparent in all our affairs. Sure, I could go to a meeting and speak about the spiritual principles of AA, but if I’m not practicing these outside of AA, then what kind of message am I sending?

One of the great gifts of being transparent is it means that I can use everything that you have experienced to help another alcoholic achieve sobriety. If I can share my own experience with another member of AA, and make them feel less alone, then my experience wasn’t a waste.

Anywhere you give yourself room to hide your actions and your true self; you may also be giving the darkness of this addiction room to grow.  It can be much too easy to lose yourself in that darkness.  When I think of transparency, I think of the pane of a window.  It lets in the light and leaves darkness no room to hide.

What makes a good sponsor?

What makes a good sponsor?

What makes a good sponsor?

There are so many people out there who get sober and are willing to sponsor but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they would make good sponsors. Good sponsors have less to do with how much knowledge of the program they have and what kind of relationship with a higher power they have. When we as addicts and alcoholic get a sponsor who takes us through steps, it is not the sponsor who gets us sober but the higher power we find during the process. So what makes a good sponsor?

  • A good program

A good program is essential to a good sponsor. A good sponsor will have worked all twelve steps in a twelve step program be continually taking action throughout their daily life to keep progressing. Working a good program means that they continue to attend meetings, help newcomers, have a growing relationship with their own understanding of a higher power and practice spiritual principles throughout every aspect of their life.

  • Integrity

Integrity is one of the main ingredients in the mixture that makes a good sponsor. Integrity means that even when no one is looking this individual continues to do the right things. They practice what they preach. A good sponsor will give you a suggestion and then also practice that in their life. A good sponsor will never tell you not to cheat on your boyfriend and then cheat on their boyfriend. If this is the case chances are that your sponsor is a good person but going through a spiritual rough patch and you may want to find someone with a little bit more integrity.

  • Practices principles in all aspects of their life

A good sponsor practices spiritual principles. A good sponsor doesn’t just practice spiritual principles at meetings or with sponsees, they also practice spiritual principles in their relationships, at work, with their families and in all areas of their life. The 12 step program is a design for living not for staying sober and good sponsors recognize this and practice the same patience, tolerance, kindness and love that they practice in the rooms, in every area of their life. They let all the principles of the program spill over into the way they handle their career, their school, their friends, their family, and their relationship.

  • Someone who has time for you

A good sponsor will always have time for you. A good sponsor will usually stop whatever they are doing to help you, that is, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. You can’t ask a sponsor to give their all if you are not giving your all in the program. Just as your time is precious so is your sponsor’s. So if you are respectful of their time you should expect the same respect of your time and they will always manage to fit you into their schedule regardless of how busy it may seem they are. They are never bothered or too busy to talk on the phone or in person.

So what makes a good sponsor? What they are doing in their own program not so much what they are doing for you because as it was first stated your sponsor won’t keep you sober but they will be a huge part of your journey into recovery. That’s why it is good to find a good sponsor who doesn’t work your program for you but works their program every day to the best of their ability as it carries over into their daily life.

Top 5 Things Not to Do With Your Sponsee

Top 5 Things Not to Do With Your Sponsee

The relationship between a sponsor and their sponsee is a delicate one. In 12 step fellowships the sponsor usually has accumulated a few years of clean time and is available to take on a sponsee to mentor through the 12 steps. The sponsee is usually newer and has not been through 12 steps (although, due to relapses a sponsee could be redoing the steps). It is the job of the sponsor to just share his or hers experience with the sponsee and tell them how they went through 12 steps to help the sponsee achieve the same thing they have, permanent sobriety. If you are a sponsor you should know though that there are some boundaries with your sponsee and some things not to do with your sponsee.

  1. Become their therapist. This is one of the biggest things not to do with your sponsee. You don’t psychoanalyze sponsees nor do you try to give them life advice. You merely just share your experience with them. If you don’t have any experiences on the situation they may be asking you for help with than it is best that you direct them to someone who does have similar experience.
  2. Give them medical advice. This is another huge thing not to do with your sponsee. You should never give your sponsee any kind of medical advice. For instance you should not tell them to start or stop any medication, that is a doctors job and most likely you are not qualified. You also don’t give them any advice on any mental or physical conditions they may have other than telling them to see a qualified medical professional.
  3. Tell them what to do. As a sponsor one of the top 5 things not to do with your sponsee is tell them what to do. As sponsors we give suggestions not demands. Giving demands to a sponsee gives off the feeling that you are better than them and in all reality you are not. You just merely have been through steps. So you don’t tell them what to do, you suggest it and let them decide for themselves.
  4. Become their best friend. This is one of the top 5 things not to do with your sponsee right now. You may become friends with your sponsee later but right now your only job is to take your sponsee through steps. While doing this you both may get to know each other very well and become close but it is best if your sponsee finds outside supports and women or men that they can rely on to stay sober. Becoming best friends with them can also cause some complicated problems if you get in a fight etc.
  5. And last but not least the top thing not to do with your sponsee is let them be dependent on you. The whole point of working the steps and taking your sponsee through the steps is to share your experience with them so they can get a relationship with a higher power. Your sponsee should always be dependent on their higher power first and you second. They should learn to pray before they call. You can’t fix all their problems but a higher power can and that’s the whole point. So don’t let your sponsee become dependent on you.

Sponsoring isn’t tricky and it’s not something that has to be done perfectly because whether or not your sponsee stays sober really has nothing to do with you and everything to do with a higher power. But you definitely want to try and stay away from the top 5 things not to do with your sponsee so you can give them the best shot at finding a relationship with a higher power through working 12 steps.

What to do if your sponsee relapses

It’s not hard to tell when a sponsee is headed towards a relapse. Usually, they’ll stop calling, stop going to meetings, and stop working the steps. What you do really depends on your sponsee. There’s really nothing you can do until your sponsee wants to come back, that’s when you take the action. If they are out there using and don’t want help, the only thing you can do is pray and be available to them when they do want help.

If your sponsee relapses for a couple of days, then wants to come back, there are a few different options. You can pick them up and take them to a meeting, start steps over, and offer support. If detox is an option, you can help them find a place to go. Usually, if your sponsee has a short relapse like this, they don’t necessarily need to return to treatment, but every situation is different. If your sponsee wants to go back to treatment, then certainly be supportive. Sometimes, if a sponsee is living a dangerous environment (i.e. with other people who are using) then treatment can be a good option.

Treatment is advantageous when your sponsee relapses, because it takes them out of their “using environment” for a period of time. Usually if a sponsee relapses for a couple days, they aren’t going to be immediately living in a “using environment.” With longer relapses, however, treatment is sometimes the best option, particularly if they have had some kind of trauma while relapsing. Treatment allows a person to stabilize and focus on recovery, and it also allows them access to therapy.

If your sponsee relapses while living in a sober house, your plan of action will likely depend on the rules of the sober house. Usually, the first time your sponsee relapses, the sober house will require them to go to detox for a specific period of time before they can come back to the sober house. Sometimes a sober house will evict them.

If your sponsee relapses, the main thing is that they need to be willing to get or receive help. If they are willing to try to get sober, you can offer help, and design a plan around their needs. However, you can’t force anyone to get or stay sober.

Sometimes, when your sponsee relapses, you may need to make a 12th step call. Maybe your sponsee calls and asks for helps, or maybe it is a friend or family who will ask you to make a 12th step call. These calls are similar to interventions, and for exact guidelines, ask your sponsor. Generally, however, you will take another person in the program with you to meet your sponsee. You will try to convince your sponsee to get help, either by taking them to detox or a meeting. Some sponsors I have known have taken their sponsees to their own houses to sober up, though this is controversial. Again, consult your sponsor before making any kind of 12 step call when your sponsee relapses.

Difference between the Sponsor, Recovery Coach, and Addiction Counselor

Difference between the Sponsor, Recovery Coach, and Addiction Counselor

Difference between the Sponsor, Recovery Coach, and Addiction Counselor

Difference between the Sponsor, Recovery Coach, and Addiction Counselor

There are so many people willing to help recovering alcoholics and addicts that it may get confusing on who is supposed to help with what. The three most well-known “helpers” of recovery are the sponsor, recovery coach, and addiction counselor. So you may be wondering what is the difference between the sponsor, recovery coach, and addiction counselor?

The difference between the sponsor, recovery coach, and addiction counselor is sometimes quite apparent and sometimes it seems that they are all doing the same thing.

A sponsor is someone who is a fellow addict and alcoholic just like you. They once were hopeless and faithless and found a way out through some kind of 12 step fellowship. A sponsor is the person who will show you the ways of that 12 step fellowship; this is very different than a recovery coach and addiction counselor. A sponsor is the person who is more like your friend and will just give you the suggestions on how they handled and stayed sober the amount of time they have, they are not an authority figure or licensed therapist they are merely another addict and alcoholic for you to connect to.

A recovery coach is kind of like a cheerleader for you and your recovery. A recovery coach helps you set goals in your recovery and make life plans to help you achieve the best life you possibly can once you get sober and are remaining sober. Sometimes it is hard to get motivated and to go out and be a part of the big bad world. A recovery coach is there to tell you that it’s possible, you are worth it and that you can achieve anything.

An addiction counselor is totally different than a sponsor and a recovery coach. An addiction counselor is the person who specializes in the disease of addiction. The addiction counselor knows the road to relapses, post-acute withdrawal, the trauma issues and how they affect your behavior. An addiction counselor is there to help you figure out the things that may be holding you back from achieving sobriety or continue to set you back in your sobriety. An addiction counselor is the therapist that understands that your mind behaviorally and physically reacts and acts differently than a person’s without the disease of addiction and alcoholism. They know all the facts, logic, science and therapy that goes in behind staying sober and getting sober.

The difference between the sponsor, recovery coach, and addiction counselor may be quite apparent but they all have one thing in common and that is you. Each one of these individuals or groups of people are trying to help you achieve what they know you want more than anything in the world and that is lasting, happy, fulfilling sobriety and a wonderful life. With all three working together there is truly nothing you cannot accomplish when you have a guide, a coach, and a specialist on your side. The difference between the sponsor, recovery coach, and addiction counselor gives someone the ability to have all the people and tools they need to stay sober and happy for the rest of their lives.


How Do I Find a Sponsor?

Finding a sponsor is one of the most crucial actions in early sobriety. Sponsors take us through the steps, advise us when we are making decisions, and act as sober supports during the tough times. Finding a sponsor is not always an easy process, because many of us don’t even know where to start. Here are some tips that should be helpful if you are trying to find a sponsor. 

1. Get to meetings early and stay late: To find a sponsor, you must go to where sponsors hang out! Sounds simple right? When you go to meetings to find a sponsor, get there early and hang out afterward. Talk to men (if you’re a guy) or women (if you’re a woman) before and after the meeting. If you feel uncomfortable introducing yourself to people you don’t know, raise your hand during the meeting and share that you are looking for a sponsor. Most likely, people will seek you out after the meeting and start talking.

2. Pay attention during meetings. Listen to others sharing. You may hear something that you may relate to. Keep in mind that if someone is speaking at the meeting or chairing the meeting, it is most likely that they have worked all 12-steps and are willing to sponsor. If they share during the discussion section, they may or may not be eligible to sponsor.

3. Look around when they ask people to raise their hands if they are willing to sponsor: Usually towards the end of the meeting, the chairperson will ask all those who are willing to sponsor to raise their hands.

4. Ask for a phone number list: At some point in the meeting, the chairperson will ask if anyone needs a phone number list. Raise your hand during this part, pick up the list of phone numbers and start calling! And don’t be afraid to call! People write down their numbers on the list because they want to get your calls.

5. It is not a once-and-for-all decision: Keep in mind that when you choose your sponsor, it is not a once-and-for all decision. If you choose one and it doesn’t work out, that’s ok, but at least you’ll have the sober support of the sponsor you choose until you find a new one. Plenty of people have started with one sponsor, and then realized that they didn’t really click.

6. Don’t be afraid of rejection! If a person is eligible to sponsor, and you ask them, most likely they will not say no. If for some reason, they cannot help you due to time constraints or having too many other sponsees, they will introduce you to someone who can. It can feel awkward to ask someone to be your sponsor, but remember that people in AA and NA are used to it!

7. Look for someone who has what you want: The most important tip to finding the right sponsor is to look for someone who has what you want. And this does not mean material possessions. Observe the person you are considering asking. Do they look happy? Are they talkative, outgoing? Do they reach out to newcomers? You should look for a sponsor who has the qualities that you would want as a sober member of AA or NA.