Top Ten Characteristics of Effective Sponsors

Hi Everyone!

This was something that we read during our meeting, so I thought it might be helpful to make it into a picture.


Top Ten Characteristics of Effective Sponsors

Abstinent: The sponsor is abstinent, and abstinence is the most important thing in their life.

Available: A good sponsor has the time to spend talking with the sponsee. They are available when needed for an emergency. They are available for personal contact in addition to the telephone.

Committed: The most effective sponsors are committed to the program, to sponsoring, and trying to pass on the message of recovery to others.

In recovery: The sponsor lives in recovery on all three levels – physical, emotional, and spiritual. They walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Program foundation: They have a strong foundation in program principles, the steps, traditions, tools, and particularly the Big Book.

12-Step based: The sponsor has knowledge and experience in working the steps. They try to apply the steps to everyday living.

Focused: The sponsor keeps the daily phone call with the sponsee focused on the steps and the program rather than social things.

Good listener: Effective sponsors are good listeners.

Clear expectations: From the beginning, the best sponsors set out clear expectations, limits and goals for the sponsor/sponsee relationship.

Shares experience only: Truly effective sponsors know their limits. They do not play God, therapist, counselor or social worker. They share their program experience only.

Humility: Good sponsors know when to say, “I don’t know,” or “I have no experience,” or “Perhaps this is a situation where you might need some help outside the 12-step rooms.” They don’t allow themselves to be put on a pedestal.

Honesty: The best sponsors are rigorously honest – both about themselves and with the sponsee. They do not enable. Their approach tends to be compassionate tough-love.

Supports and encourages: Effective sponsors help sponsees to grow, to learn to do new things, to take risks, and to learn from their mistakes.

Attitude: Good sponsors demonstrate compassion, empathy, patience, a sense of humor, and a positive attitude about life.

Knows when to let go: Good sponsors know when and how to detach with love and “let go” of sponsees when it becomes appropriate.

Developed at a 1999 Workshop, Later Published in Lifeline



were responsible for the effort not the outcome
were responsible for the effort not the outcome


Thank you all for sharing this journey with me!

In love and service,


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