What Should I Do If My Sponsor Relapses?

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The importance of a recovering addict’s support system comprised of close family members, friends, and other associations is sometimes overlooked. However, no one person often proves as crucial as the former dependent’s sponsor.

This individual has fought the same wars and understands the newly sober person’s feelings and emotions like few others can. However, situations can arise when one’s sponsor relapses back into substance or alcohol use. When such unfortunate circumstances arise, the individual in recovery may be left wondering what the most befitting next actions should be.

What Is A Sponsor?

A sponsor is an individual who helps shepherd newly recovering addicts through the 12-step recovery process. Above all, this subject is one who has been through the struggles of chemical dependency and successfully completed a treatment program.

A Sponsor’s Value

Sponsors often prove critical to one’s chances of recovery for several reasons including:


It bears repeating that sponsors are former addicts. This means that they have similar experiences and made the same mistakes novice healers have made. Therefore, they can provide counsel that others simply cannot.


Sponsors demand those new to the recovery process be held accountable for their actions. They have been there. Ergo, they will not tolerate excuses and not allow the person under their tutelage to fall into past transgressions.

Moral Support

Sponsors lend sympathetic ears. They understand the struggles a newly sober person faces and can provide advice on how to cope based upon their own often bitter experiences.

Steps To Take If One’s Sponsor Relapses

To a neophyte to sobriety, a sponsor might seem like a person with super powers. However, at the end of the day, sponsors are people too and are capable of making mistakes like anyone else. If one’s sponsor falls off the proverbial wagon, addiction specialists suggest that their pupils take actions such as:

Not Blaming Themselves

One should never take the blame for a sponsor’s mistake. Said subject did not imbibe or ingest a substance again because of anything their pupil did. Rather, the sponsor likely experienced a moment of weakness or succumbed to some underlying stress or tension.

Avoid Being Judgmental

While the pupil might be confused, angry, and disappointed, they should not judge their sponsor. One must remember that recovery is a lifelong process often filled with many ups and downs and mistakes can be made by even the most seasoned veterans of the process.

Expressing One’s Feelings

Treatment professionals maintain that speaking about their sponsor’s relapse could prove beneficial. Taking such action enables the pupil to express their true feelings and emotions in a positive and productive manner.

Avoid Deviating From The Plan

The sponsor’s error is not the pupil’s. The pupil should not automatically believe that they will be next in line for such a fate. However, they should stay true to their established recovery plan. This means following the new routine they have created, attending meetings as scheduled, and partaking in all ongoing recovery-related endeavors.

Not Panicking

Watching an individual one cares about and benefits from experience trying events can prove heart-wrenching and quite stressful. That said, the pupil must remain as calm and healthy as possible.

Becoming too upset or allowing tension to build excessively could lead to the pupil’s relapse. Therefore, said subject is urged to focus on productive anxiety-relieving outlets, consuming a healthy diet, obtaining enough sleep, staying hydrated, and exercising.

Using The Event As A Learning Experience

Every setback can be used as a learning experience. The pupil should ask themselves what lessons can be learned from these events and how could they avoid making the same mistakes their sponsor did.

Finding A New Sponsor

Unfortunately, when a sponsor relapses, they can no longer serve in said capacity with their pupil. Therefore, the newly sober subject will need to find another qualified individual to fill that role.

Contacting Us

Sponsors are unsung heroes in the addiction recovery process. To learn how to find a sponsor or learn the qualities of a solid sponsor, please reach out to our Ohio-based facility at 833-285-1315.

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