I heard get a sponsor many times during my first and second go around in recovery. I’d get a sponsor and do exactly what they told me to do. My old sponsors told me to check-in every day. So I did. They told me to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. So I did. Then I got wasted.
I couldn’t figure out where I went wrong. Others seemed to have little difficulty staying sober and enjoying life. Well-intentioned sober friends told me to simply do what my sponsor said. I did and ended up in relapse.
Some survive for a period of time on the go-to-meetings-call-your-sponsor formula. I usually lasted 6 months. I knew what the steps were and heard about them, but I thought sponsors put you through a trial period where you demonstrated worthiness before they actually walked you through the 12 steps.
When my guide at Discovery Place asked me how much step work I had completed with a sponsor, the answer was none. He told me that the health of a sponsor-sponsee relationship depends on step work. If a sponsor is actively guiding a newcomer through the 12 steps as directed in the literature, the relationship is healthy. If a sponsor does not, it’s time to get a new sponsor or have a frank discussion with him/her.
So active work with a sponsor involves 12 step work on a consistent basis, plain and simple. This vital component made the difference between recovery and relapse for me. It brought about personal growth I couldn’t possibly have imagined, and it is, in my mind, the most important element in a program of recovery.