You might be strong and independent, but everyone can use a little help sometimes. Drug rehab in Florida is just the beginning of recovery. Living clean and sober is a lifelong journey where the people you know could help or hinder your goals.

For many, a sobriety program such as 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous or NarcAnon after treatment supports abstinence, but it is not always easy to stick with such programs on your own. A sponsor might help you stay on track longer, reducing your odds of relapse.

12-Step Programs Help Millions of People Live Sober Lives

Even if you have never attended a meeting, you might be familiar with the longstanding rumor that 12-step programs do not work. Loran Archer, former Deputy Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, wrote at his now-archived website about the number of people who continued meeting attendance:

  • 1-4 years after first meeting attendance: 36 percent
  • 5-9 years after first meeting attendance: 30 percent
  • 10-19 years after first meeting attendance: 29 percent
  • 20+ years after first meeting attendance: 32 percent

Of those who either continued or dropped out in the last year, 62 percent who still attended meetings remained abstinent. Conversely, 53 percent of dropouts went back to high-risk drinking habits. Research suggests that a sponsor could improve the odds of both staying in the program and staying abstinent.

Sponsors Do Not Drag You to Meetings but They Encourage Good Choices

Sponsors have been where you are and have kept moving forward. They are not drug treatment medical professionals. However, they have experience that only comes from living as an addict and then committing to a change. Sponsor/Sponsee relationships are similar to a mentor situation.

Most sponsors have been in recovery for years. Maybe they have relapsed, but they picked themselves back up again. They understand what you are going through, which gives them perspective and insight that a non-addict can never have.

Here are just a few of the ways that a sponsor could help you:

  • Offer emotional support when cravings threaten you with relapse
  • Explain the benefits of the program and show you other avenues for help
  • Encourage meeting attendance and program participation
  • Help you meet others in recovery
  • Give facts about the program so you can make an educated choice

Here is what sponsors do not do:

  • Make you go to meetings
  • Make you participate in the steps
  • Give you an unrealistic idea of success

AA Sponsors Relate to Increased Abstinence for at Least the First Year

Substance abuse recovery is one of the toughest things that any person can do. In the earliest stages, the risk of relapse is inordinately high. However, with a 12-step program sponsor, the precarious first year may go a lot more smoothly for you.

Research in 2010 by the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of NM Psychology Department showed that having a sponsor during the first 12 months “predicted increased abstinence.” Their study did not evaluate sponsorship beyond the first year.

In 2013, a new study by the Alcohol Research Group showed a direct relationship between sponsorship, meeting participation, and abstinence. While sponsorship tends to decline over time, this research suggests that having a sponsor when you are at your most vulnerable–when you are recently out of rehab–can give you vital support.

Not everyone who enters treatment goes on to a 12-step program later. For some, the SMART program is a better choice. Not everyone who attends AA or NarcAnon meetings gets a sponsor. However, research supports sponsorship as a positive force that improves your odds of living sober in recovery.

If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, drug rehab in Florida can help. Our wide range of treatment options, including guidance with a 12-step program, help us create a program that is right for you. Contact us today to begin your journey toward recovery!

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.