How To Work The 12 Steps Without A Sponsor

May 2, 2023

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most famous example of a 12-step program, but the 12 Steps can be applied to any addiction.

The core of each 12-step program involves a sponsor relationship. A sponsor can help you work through the steps in a group setting.

1. Ask for help.

Working the 12 steps is a crucial part of AA and NA recovery. It provides a sense of support and accountability to those in recovery, which can be difficult to find elsewhere.

It also allows a person to share their story and gain insight into the process of recovery from those who have gone through it before them. These people are called sponsors, and they provide mentorship to sponsees in the form of guidance and encouragement.

Sponsors help sponsees with the steps, encourage them to attend meetings, and practice spiritual principles in their daily lives. They are not required, but many sponsees benefit from the relationship they form with their sponsor.

2. Find a new sponsor.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not working the 12 steps with your current sponsor, it can be challenging to get back on track. But there are a few things you can do to help get yourself on the right track.

First, be sure to seek out a new sponsor that is a good fit for you. This person will be your biggest supporter on the journey of recovery.

You can approach people you meet at AA or NA meetings or even someone you know one-on-one. If they turn you down, don’t take it personally.

It may be that they aren’t willing to put in the time or commitment that is needed for a sponsorship relationship. But it’s a good idea to keep trying until you find the perfect match.

3. Read the Big Book.

One of the most popular books for recovery is "The Big Book." It's a basic text that presents the 12-Step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Millions of people who attend AA meetings have attested to the effectiveness of this book and its precepts.

Those who are interested in recovery and are considering using the AA method should read the Big Book before getting started. The AA organization has also developed numerous books to assist members in applying its principles and working the 12 steps.

The Big Book can be a little intimidating for newcomers, especially those who are not religious. In the first few pages, you'll likely come across the words "God" and the idea that you'll need to believe in a higher power may be uncomfortable for some.

4. Participate in meetings.

Many 12-Step groups require members to attend meetings frequently (usually three or more per week) and to involve themselves in various recovery-related activities. These include reading 12-Step literature, doing "step work," calling other 12-Step group members or one's sponsor, volunteering in the community, and participating in other mutual support groups (e.g., Women for Sobriety).

Involvement in mutual support groups is associated with better substance use outcomes. These groups provide members with support for their efforts to remain substance free, a social network of peers, and a set of guiding principles (e.g., 12 steps) that entail admitting one's powerlessness over alcohol and drugs, taking a moral inventory of self, admitting the nature of one's wrongs, and making amends to those who have been harmed by the substance abuser's actions.

5. Take the time you need.

The 12 steps have been proven to work better than most other forms of addiction treatment. They promote accountability, a belief that you can’t control your destiny, and a sense of community that keeps you going.

Step One, which was co-founder Bill Wilson’s first step, is structured around the belief that you are powerless over your addiction. This is an important step to acknowledge because addiction cannot be controlled by willpower alone.

This step also calls on you to make amends for social harm, which replaces addictive behaviors with acts of empathy and compassion. It helps you regain trust in yourself and others, reduce guilt, and feel more motivated to improve your social connections.


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