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:

    If You Loved Me, You'd Stop! What You Really Need to Know When Your Loved One Drinks Too Much
    The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Including Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions)
    The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
    Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism/Third Edition