What If Your Sponsor Relapses?

People who have been through an addiction treatment program often find that a 12-step program such as AA or NA is a great resource for keeping them on track after they leave treatment. A 12-step program provides a sober support network and helps keep you focused on sobriety. It’s common for people working 12-step programs to have a sponsor to serve as a sort of mentor in recovery. Ideally, your sponsor will be someone with several years of sobriety, someone who has the kind of recovery you aspire to have yourself one day. Unfortunately, no one is immune to relapse, even someone who has been sober for a long time. Having your sponsor relapse can be extremely challenging. Not only does it leave you without a recovery mentor, but it can undermine your faith in the whole process. Here’s what to do after your sponsor relapses. 

Know That It’s Not Your Fault

First of all, don’t take it personally. Nothing you said or did caused your sponsor to relapse. You may feel let down, disappointed, or betrayed. Those feelings are totally normal and understandable. Still, remember that your sponsor’s relapse isn’t about you. Instead of being angry, hurt, or resentful, consider asking how you can help. Your sponsor was there for you when you needed it and now you can be there for your sponsor. Keep in mind that helping does not mean saving. While you can offer compassion and support, your sponsor has to be willing to do the work to save themselves.

Share Your Feelings

Whatever you’re feeling about your sponsor’s relapse, don’t bottle it up. Talk it over with your support group or with your therapist. It’s important that you not be judgmental or disparaging. You should know as well as anyone what a hard road recovery can be. You may have expected more from your sponsor but your expectations are your problem, not theirs. Focus on your own side of things–your doubts, your disappointment, and so on–without casting aspersions or spreading gossip. 

Learn From It

If you were communicating regularly with your sponsor, you might have some idea what was going on in their life leading up to the relapse. Talk to your sponsor and see if you can get a better idea of what happened. Perhaps you can learn from your sponsor’s mistakes. The experience is also an opportunity to learn more about yourself. How did you respond to the bad news? Did you feel like giving up or pressing on? Did you feel like you depended too heavily on your sponsor to stay sober? What could you do differently to weather a similar challenge in the future?

Stick to Your Recovery Plan

Finally, stick to your recovery plan, no matter what. Everyone is different and just because your sponsor hit a bump in the road doesn’t mean you have no hope of staying sober. In the end, all you can do is focus on your process, stay open to opportunities to learn and grow and keep taking the recovery actions that have been working for you. 

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

There are challenges in every phase of recovery. Although sobriety does tend to get easier the longer you go, relapse is always a possibility. All you can do is focus on the process and try to build systems, routines, and social support to help you stay on track for the long run. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, we help men create better lives, free from addiction. To learn more about our holistic treatment program, visit our website or call us today at 855-202-2138.

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