Recovery Characteristics and Practices of Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors – research

Objectives: Sponsoring another member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is associated with improved substance use outcomes, but little research examines who is asked (and agrees) to sponsor another member. The objective of this exploratory study is to describe the recovery-related characteristics and practices associated with AA sponsors.

Methods: AA members (263) completed an anonymous online questionnaire about their background and recovery behaviors. On 9 characteristics and 4 practices tests were used to compare (a) current nonsponsors with sponsors; and (b) lifetime nonsponsors with those who had sponsored at some point.


How and when members entered AA had no association with the sponsor role.

Sponsors, past and present, were characterized by

  • having an AA home group,
  • completing more steps,
  • having longer sobriety, and
  • reporting a greater degree of spiritual surrender.

    Current sponsors engaged more frequently than current nonsponsors in all 4 of the following practices:

  • performing AA service work,
  • attending meetings,
  • praying or meditating, and
  • reading AA literature.

    Lifetime sponsors engaged more frequently than lifetime nonsponsors in all practices except praying or meditating. Evidence suggested lifetime nonsponsors and former sponsors did not differ in AA practices, indicating the value of current/active sponsorship.

    Conclusions: Similar to having a sponsor, being a sponsor is associated with characteristics and practices supportive of AA engagement.

    By Young, Lance Brendan PhD, MBA, Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: 6 October 2011

  • Related Reading:

    Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism
    Seven Weeks to Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism through Nutrition
    The Big Book   of Alcoholics Anonymous
    Seven Days Sober: A Guide to Discovering What You Really Think About Your Drinking