Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Questions sponsors ask about their sponsees

IF YOU GET FIFTEEN ALCOHOLICS IN A ROOM, YOU WILL GET TWENTY OPINIONS

I have opinions of my own — strong opinions — but I don’t always agree with them. George Bush

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE DOESN’T DO WHAT I TELL THEM TO DO?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They wont’ hear a word I say, they won’t do anything anyway.

Does it sometimes seem as if your sponsee doesn’t hear a word you say? DO you tell him or her to do something and it never gets done? …
As sponsors, we are to share our experience strength and hope with out sponsees rather than tell them what to do. Even the Twelve Steps are suggested. Sponsees deserve to make the basic decisions about their lives including whether or not to work their program or to stay in recovery. Agency or (free will) is a fundamental cornerstone of recovery. The program as outlined in the Big Book of A.A. remains for people who want it, not for people who merely need it. Everyone works their own program and if keeps them sober who are we to play God, its hard enough to play sponsor. As their sponsor, we are entitled to suggest, but not to dictate. One of our responsibilities is to prepare our sponsees to be accountable and responsible for their own behavior. We can’t accomplish that objective if we are telling them what to do. They have a right to their own mistakes and the important lessons that they will learn from them

Paradoxes are nothing more than grandiose thoughts in embryo.

(WHEN A PAIR OF DUCKS DIVERGE ON A LANE THEIR HATCHING A GRANDIOSE PLOT FOR RICHES AND FAME)

Not everyone in a Twelve Step program would agree that sponsees are not to be told what to do in the early days of their recovery. I hold to the idea that how they their lives is always their decision and I should not be deciding for them. (See decision making for dummies on the Captains table) To do so creates an unhealthy dependency. It is up to the sponsor, however, to help them see, realistically, the alternatives they have. Newcomers frequently have trouble sorting out alternatives. A sponsor helps them to do that, and will help to bring Twelve Step principles and experience to bear on the issue, but I will not make the decision itself no matter how much they plead or how much I want to. When they ask, What would you do if you were me? I answer them quite genuinely, I don’t know, because I am not you. I am always willing to tell them what I believe program experience suggests, but I always leave the final decision to them

If we feed our grandiosity when we try to run our sponsees lives, I then surely suffer from delusions of mediocrity

HOW DO I HANDLE IT WHEN MY SPONSEE HAS ANOTHER SPONSOR WHO DISAGREES  WITH ME?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want people who’ll disagree with me, even if it costs them their jobs. …
Samuel Goldwyn

It’s unusual for a sponsee to have multiple sponsors. However, if your sponsee is getting conflicting suggestions from another sponsor, try to help your sponsee sort out the alternatives, bringing Twelve Step principles and wisdom to bear. It’s just hard to dance with more than one partner at a time the number of left feet to step on more than doubles. The decision is always your sponsees. Keep you investment light then it won’t matter whether your sponsee does what you think is best, it won’t matter much.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY SPONSEE LIES TO ME?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASK ME NO QUESTIONS AND I WILL TELL YOU NO LIES AS THE TRUTH IS FOREIGN TO ME I HAVE ONLY SURVIVED WITH MISPLACED HALF TRUTHS AND THE CREATIVE ALABI

Confront the sponsee immediately. A Twelve Step program is one of honesty, and honesty is something we are trying to teach our sponsee. If you and your sponsee are not developing increasing trust and honesty with each other, the sponsorship is in jeopardy, Honesty is one of the ground rules. However, I don’t expect a new sponsee to reveal everything at once regarding the past and certain issues in the present, nor do I reveal all my private issues. As trust builds between us, we are each more willing to share our secrets with the other.

NOW I LIE ME DOWN TO SLEEP, IF I SHOULD LIE BEFORE I AWAKE, I PRAY  THE  LORD MY LIE TO TAKE

We have come into the rooms of recovery habitual liars, we would lie so often that we would lie even when the truth would have served us better. Its progress not perfection and time takes time.
Newcomer sponsees fall into a special category. Very often they don’t know how to be honest, so the approach with them is different. For some newcomers, learning to be honest is a process that takes time and unfortunately many failures. Many of us have lied so much and so often that we would not recognize the truth if it bit us, which it often times tried.

IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT A MAN IS TELLING THE TRUTH WHEN YOU KNOW THAT YOU WOULD LIE IF YOU WERE IN HIS PLACE

There is no reason for us, therefore, to expect instant honesty from a newcomer sponsee. Dishonesty is something that the two of us can  be aware of as a problem  and work on together .This approach isn’t intended to provide an excuse for lying but to allow progress  (rather than to demand perfection) in this area. On the other hand, I do expect my sponsee to be absolutely honest about their drinking or drug use (or equivalent addiction) and about the fundamentals of their program.

The truth can stand on it’s own, and often enough it stands all alone

MY SPONSEE CALLS TOO OFTEN. HOW DO I HANDLE THAT?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I THOUGHT IT WAS A RINGING IN MY EARS UNTILL I REALIZED IT WAS A NEW  SPONSEE WITH AN AUTOMATIC REDIAL

Set your boundaries. You have a right to your time discuss the situation and try to resolve it.  If it is a matter of excessive dependency, address that issue. If your sponsee simply wants to talk with you more than you want to talk them discuss the problem openly and try to resolve the conflicting expectations by coming to a mutually acceptable compromise. One such sponsee would call three and four times a day, I quickly confronted him with a boundary. One call a day as originally agreed two calls if there is a situation that needs immediate attention (as to go out and drink) incident or accident. If he needs to talk more often I suggest he calls other program members.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY SPONSEE IS SEEING A THERAPIST WHO SAYS THAT THE SPONSEE DOESN’T HAVE TO WORK THE STEPS BECAUSE THEY ARE COVERING THEIR BASIC PROBLEMS IN THERAPY?

DR. FRANKENSTEIN HAS SUGGESTED A SIMPLE BRAIN TRANSPLANT, THE BRAIN OF ABBY NORMAL IS AVAILABLE THE ONLY SIDE EFFECT IS HE COULD BE AN ALCOHOLIC

 

 

 

“The bad news is that  you were given an alcoholic brain; the good news is that you are naturally attracted  to barrels , kegs, and to to be perfectly frank, and steins.

 

First, a little background. Beginning in the summer of 1944, after nine years of sobriety, Bill Wilson sought treatment for depression from Harry Tiebout, M.D., a nonalcoholic psychiatrist.
Dr. Tiebout was an early and enthusiastic supporter of A.A. and the two men developed a longstanding  friendship. During this period, Bill Wilson relied on A.A. and its Twelve Steps to keep him sober. He relied on Dr.Tiebout to help him make progress on other issues in his life. Dr Tiebout never presumed to treat Bill’s alcoholism.

The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization. Sigmund Freud

Coming between your sponsee and their therapist is a no win situation. You have the right, however, to point out to your sponsee that Twelve Step programs are the most effective treatment for addictions and compulsions,  a statement confirmed by scientific research, common sense and years of practical experience.
What your sponsee claims the therapist has said and what the therapist has actually said may be very different. Ask your sponsee if they are trying to use the therapist as an excuse to avoid the hard work of the Steps. If your sponsee continually refuses to work the Steps continue to make them available. Remind your sponsee that if they are not working the Steps they maybe sober but they are not in recovery. When life on life’s terms make it an imperative, when the pain of living becomes great enough your sponsee will be ready and not before.

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE IS SUICIDAL?

SUICIDE IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF SELF-CRITICISM

SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO A TEMPORARY PROBLEM

YOU CAN ALSO REMIND YOUR SPONSEE, THAT SUICIDE IS ALSO CONSIDERED A SLIP

 and if he is dead more than three days it is a definite relapse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no easy answer to this difficult question. Each situation is different. If there is a clear and present danger, you may need to suggest that your sponsee call 911. Otherwise, we have a responsibility to see that our sponsee has told a member of their family (spouse, sibling, parent) about the suicidal feelings or that they have sought professional help. Beyond that, all you can do is be available on a reasonable basis and turn it over. The basic guidelines is that you are not in charge of your sponsee’s life, and even a decision as profoundly as important as life or death is your sponsees to make. It is not in your power to keep someone alive.

When you have a new sponsee consider getting contact information full name address of residence current phone work place and phone (if your lucky) and an emergency contact person, phone and address. Dr. Bob said that there was two ways you could break anonymity, one was in press radio and film and two if that you were so anonymous that the other drunks could not find you. (When common sense becomes uncommon sense)

If there is ever a question about medication I suggest that the sponsee might consider getting another medical opinion from a certified health care professional, and that would be a period.

Suicides often give you no signs, and if a savvy sponsor suspects he can contact the family , if you guess that he is in immediate danger 911 would be reasonable, but in my experience the true suicide does not broadcast the fact for they have had made up their minds and find a form of solace in the prospect of the coming relief from an eternal peace and the perceived burden to society at large they have now become, and will go to great lengths to insure that their attempt will not be thwarted, if nothing else they want to make sure they get at least their last act correct and thus being remembered as having at least done something right.. Some folks  with long term sobriety who are temporarily  unable to cope with life on life’s terms and can not or will not even consider to  be disloyal to the program of recovery by opting for the ease and comfort  of the first drink of alcohol and the respite from oblivion often times  see suicide as their only option.

Beyond that, all you can do is be available on a reasonable basis and turn it over. The basic guidelines is that you are not in charge of your sponsee’s life, and even a decision as profoundly as important as life or death is your sponsees to make. It is not in your power to keep someone alive.

 

 

No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect. George Bernard Shaw

 

suicide fish

 

You also have a responsibility to yourself in these cases. Should your sponsee commit suicide, you want to know that you have done everything you could reasonably have done to prevent it. In the tragic event that your sponsee opts for the solution of death to relive their alcoholism, you don’t want to burden yourself with guilt because you did not urge them or  to get help or second guess yourself “that if you has done things differently”. Ask yourself what behavior would be reasonable under those circumstances. Seek the advice of your sponsor Do all that you can do and turn the rest over to God. Remember, it’s a fool that seeks logic in the chambers of the human heart. There is always sadness at the fall of a comrade. This unfortunate turn of events should not stop us from working with the new man. We remain in action being of maximum service to God and our fellows , we let the dead bury the dead.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN I AM CARRYING MY SPONSEE?

There ain’t a single thing you’ve done
I am doing your work and it ain’t no fun
Oh, but if you want to have a go
I just want to let you know
Get off my back and get into recovery on your own

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are carrying a sponsee when the sponsee has little commitment to Twelve Step recovery and is participating only because of our constant pressure. If the relationship is largely one-sided, and it feels as though your sponsee isn’t bearing their fair share of the relationship, you are probably carrying your sponsee. For example, you initiate the telephone calls, take the sponsee to meetings other wise your sponsee won’t attend and you make continuous suggestions that are wholly and completely ignored. One way to test for this condition is to avoid calling your sponsee for a while and see what happens. If your sponsee does not call you, guess what? You have probably been carrying him or her. One of A.A.’s great sayings is, We carry the message, not the alcoholic.  Suggest to your sponsee that a different sponsor with a different sponsorship style may be more effective to his or her recovery as the present relationship is not working for either party.

WHAT DO I DO WITH A SPONSEE WHO IS OBVIOUSLY DEPRESSED?

depression

 Depression The Original 4 G Network

Losing contact with God     Losing interest in Goals    The Goblin of self-pity   And Gravity, with the inactivity of a stone.

DEPRESSION IS ANGER WITHOUT ANY ENTHUSIASM

When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to let it all hang down
Charlie Brown

There is no easy answer to this question. A significant percentage of alcoholics and addicts are depressed when they get clean and sober (alcohol, after all is a depressant). Some of us come out of that depression rather quickly in recovery while others do not. Some depressed members of the fellowship need professional help. The difference between being depressed and the chronic, pathological condition of depression is not one that most program members are qualified to determine.

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE IS A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING UNTO GOD

One effective technique that is often suggested for getting out of depression is to make a gratitude list. Take out a pad of paper and write, Things to be grateful for at the top. Start with I’m sober (clean, abstinent) today and continue the list, writing down every single thing you can think of to be grateful for. Once the action has been taken it is my experience it takes on a mind of its own. The more you are grateful for the more things to be grateful for are revealed. Take the action it is magical, and it always works.

WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK MY SPONSEE IS RELAPSING?

THOSE WHO RELAPSE ARE ATTENDING POWERLESSNESS GRADUATE SCHOOL (Emily-ism)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the evidence is strong enough to make you suspicious, ask him or her about it. You must have some reason for suspecting it, so a discussion of that reason is in order. Rumors are not reliable, so it would have to be some action on your sponsee’s part, some change in attitude or behavior, or some eyewitness account that made you suspicious. As a rule, you will find out soon enough. An Alcoholic or addict finds it is very difficult to conceal their drinking or using from another alcoholic or addict and it is a lot of work. Your sense of smell will often give them away… Behavior and body language will usually give them away long before the act.

WHAT DO I DO IF MY SPONSEE SLIPS?

ALCOHOL, LIKE ICE, OUR FOOTING DOES BETRAY; WHO CAN TREAD SURE ON THE SMOOTH SLIPPERY WAY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask your sponsee if they have a desire to stop drinking? If your sponsee wants to quit get them to a Twelve Step meeting as soon as possible, If your sponsee does not want to get clean and sober or claim to want recovery but is unwilling to attend a Twelve Step meeting, there is nothing more you can do except be available should they decide otherwise . As the saying goes, Twelve Step recovery is not for those who need it, but for those who want it.

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE SLIPS AND WANTS TO GET BACK IN RECOVERY?

A SLIP IS A TEMPORARY LOSS OF BALANCE QUICKLY RECOVERED BEFORE THE ENDLESS FALL

TO FALL OUT OF FAULT, TO SLIDE OUT OF PLACE,TO LOSE ALL ABILITY TO SHOW SOME RESTRAINT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triage, let’s try, and determine what went wrong. This is best done on the way to the closest and earliest meeting possible, preferably one where they can pick up a new desire chip. This symbol of starting over, admitting powerlessness, humbling themselves by asking for help is very powerful. Then

  1. Welcome your sponsee back into the fellowship.
  2. Get your sponsee started immediately on the First Step.
  3. Reestablish your sponsee on a newcomer’s program of ninety meetings in ninety days (ninety in ninety),  daily calls to check in, prayer and meditation, readings in the Big Book (The jay walker, and The Doctors opinion etc) ,and so on.
  4. Help you sponsee learn from the slip. What should they do differently in the future to protect against another one.

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE ASKS FOR MONEY, A PLACE TO LIVE, OR TO BORROW MY CAR?

Well you can’t sleep in my digs
Well you can’t borrow my car
I won’t let you use my debit card
It’s never gonna get that far

Tell your sponsee the answer is no, and that no is a complete sentence. Sponsorship is a special relationship created to help your sponsee stay in recovery by helping them work the Twelve Step recovery program. If you try to make it into something other than that (a love relationship, a buddy relationship, a banking relationship, an employer relationship), it may destroy the effectiveness if not the usefulness of the sponsorship.

Don’t borrow and don’t lend
For most of the time you loose the loan and the friend,
And when you borrow it is not a wise use of resource and makes a beggar of utility
The important thing to remember is to be true to you
And if you are, it is as plain as night and day
You will be true through and through  (a parody of William Shakespeare)

Friendships and families not to mention sponsorship have broken up over questions of money. One of the ground rules from the beginning should be not to lend money, furnish lodging, provide an automobile, or do similar favors for sponsees. These services are not part of the purpose of sponsorship. Refuse any effort by your sponsee to abuse the relationship in this manner. If you want to lend your sponsee money, you can certainly do so, but it is suggested to have your sponsee get a different sponsor in order to keep priorities in line with working the Steps and not worrying about paying you back.

 

MY SPONSEE JUST WANTS TO BE MY BUDDY.IS THAT OKAY?

WE HANG, HOMEYS FROM THE HOOD, CRYPTS, AND BLOODS IT’S UNDERSTOOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, it is not. You can have many friends but only one sponsor. Your role as a sponsor is more purposeful than that of a buddy. Our conversations with our sponsees should be semi structured in that we focus with them on how they are applying Twelve Step principles  in their lives. Did they work on their character defects today? When they were wrong did they promptly admit it? Have they sought through prayer and meditation to know the will of God? Have they helped another (alcoholic)? Did they go to a meeting? Have they been honest with themselves and others? These are the kinds of questions we ask as sponsors. They give the sense of accountability necessary in the recovery process. They are not our only questions, of course, but they provide the framework for our conversations. They are not the kinds of issues that come up when talking to a bud.

WHEN SHOULD I SUGGEST THAT MY SPONSEE SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP?

A psychiatrist inquired of me, if I heard things and saw things that other people didn’t hear or didn’t see? I replied doesn’t everyone, He replied “I can work with you”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOROSE AS A GHOST, WITH A FEVER OVER ONE HUNDRED AND THREE AND IN  TIME TO AVOID A KILLING SPREE

The term professional help usually refers to a psychiatrist, psychologist other therapist who deals with emotional problems, and that is the way I have used it in this answer. I recommend to suicidal sponsees that they seek professional help immediately. In those cases where my sponsee’s problems seem to be more than addiction or compulsion alone, where he or she is suffering terribly without relief despite their best efforts to work the Steps, I suggest some form of counseling might be called for and appropriate.. The A.A. Big Book refers to our psychologist as one with whom to share our Filth Step, so there is precedence for it. Furthermore, Bill Wilson saw a psychiatrist for his depression, and A.A. statements make it clear that the fellowship has no quarrel with mental health professionals. In an address to the New York medical society on Alcoholism, Bill Wilson said, We know, too, that psychiatry can often release the big neurotic overhang from which many of us suffer after A.A. has sobered us up.

The decision to seek professional help is your sponsees. Only he or she can decide whether or not it is right for them. Many emotional problems do clear up after a period of recovery in a Twelve Step program. Others do not .The decision has to be made sponsee by sponsee it is different in every case.

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE HASN’T CALLED ME IN WEEKS

IF YOU’RE PHONES NOT RINGING, IT’S ME THAT’S CALLING Jimmy Buffet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It depends on how new your sponsee is to the program and to the relationship and whether or not you have called him or her. Several weeks is a long time not to have talked to a sponsee. A sponsee who hasn’t initiated a call in a long time or hasn’t returned you’re your phone call is probably in emotional trouble, is working their own program, or is not interested in your sponsorship. I suggest do not chase the sponsee, for we avoid what pursues us. Let them know your concern and put it in Gods capable hands knowing you did all you could do. On the other hand, maybe they are just out of town or on vacation. You will have to determine what’s going on. Confront your sponsee if possible and try to resolve the problem.

HOW MUCH ADVICE ON MATTERS OUTSIDE THE PROGRAM SHOULD I GIVE MY SPONSEE? WHAT IF MY SPONSEE IS DUAL ADDICTED

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE ASKS FOR MONEY, A PLACE TO LIVE, OR TO BORROW MY CAR?

Well you can’t sleep in my digs
Well you can’t borrow my car
I won’t let you use my debit card
It’s never gonna get that far

Tell your sponsee the answer is no, and that no is a complete sentence. Sponsorship is a special relationship created to help your sponsee stay in recovery by helping them work the Twelve Step recovery program. If you try to make it into something other than that (a love relationship, a buddy relationship, a banking relationship, an employer relationship), it may destroy the effectiveness if not the usefulness of the sponsorship.

Don’t borrow and don’t lend
For most of the time you loose the loan and the friend,
And when you borrow it is not a wise use of resource and makes a beggar of utility
The important thing to remember is to be true to you
And if you are, it is as plain as night and day
You will be true through and through  (a parody of William Shakespeare)

Friendships and families not to mention sponsorships-have broken up over questions of money. One of the ground rules from the beginning should be not to lend money, furnish lodging, provide an automobile, or do similar favors for sponsees. These services are not part of the purpose of sponsorship. Refuse any effort by your sponsee to abuse the relationship in this manner. If you want to lend your sponsee money, you can certainly do so, but it is suggested to have your sponsee get a different sponsor in order to keep priorities in line with working the Steps and not worrying about paying you back.

HOW MUCH ADVICE ON MATTERS OUTSIDE THE PROGRAM SHOULD I GIVE MY  SPONSEE?

PEOPLE WHO GIVE ADVICE ARE IN THE MOST NEED OF IT
I ALWAYS ADVISE PEOPLE NEVER TO GIVE ADVICE

We are not in a position to advise our sponsees on their jobs, their spouses, their girlfriends their boyfriends or whether or not they should go back to barber collage. What we can suggest is that they apply the Steps to these issues, especially the Third and Eleventh, and practice Twelve Step principles in all of their affairs. One of A.A.’s Twelve promises is that A.A. members will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle them ( we can now baffle situations that used to handle us) . If our sponsees rely on the Steps and the God of their understanding, the answers will take care of themselves.

WHAT IF MY SPONSEE HAS A DUAL ADDICTION?

DR JEYKL IS AN ALCOHOLIC AND MR HYDE IS A CRACK ADDICT WE ARE BOTH CODEPEDENT AND SPEND ALL OUR TIME FILLING OUT NAME TAGS AT THE CONFERENCES

 


 

When the sponsee is a newcomer, it makes sense for him or her to attend Twelve Step meetings for a secondary chemical addiction if they are comfortable doing so. Each Twelve Step program claims expertise only in a particular area. It makes no claim whatsoever to being able to help somebody with any other addiction. So the decision about going to other Twelve Step meetings is one that you and your sponsee should discuss.

 

 

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