Admitting drinking to an AA sponsor

Fear, anger, and shame are all a part of the cycle of addiction. But you are not alone. Should you admit a drinking episode to a sponsor? What can you expect? More on admitting drinking to an AA sponsor here.

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Whether you have experienced a relapse or a new to Alcoholics Anonymous, you probably have some fear, doubt and shame associated with the past.  We review a few simple questions about the role of a sponsor and present you with some ideas to help you move forward in recovery from alcoholism.

I’m afraid of telling the truth about my drinking.  What should I do?

Fear of rejection can motivate us to hide the truth of our past behaviors and actions.  In order to move forward, you need to let go of fear.  This is a very personal process and is different for everyone.  But the basic need is that you take a leap of faith, talk openly about your drinking and hope for the best.

How can I deal with the shame of past drinking?

Just like fear, you need to cope with shame when facing a drinking problem.  Although shame is a helpful motivator for recovery, at times shame can be unhealthy and get in the way of progress.  Therefore, it helps to understand time in a continuum of past-present-future actions.  You can only control the present.  And if you are committed to not drinking RIGHT NOW, that is the best that you can do.  Also, with every day sober, you are moving away from the person that you WERE and start to look more like the person you WILL BECOME.  Therefore, let go of shame and trust that your present action is good enough to move you forward in sobriety.

How can I be sure an A.A. sponsor won’t criticize or judge me?

Many sponsors can relate to your drinking history with their own personal history.  So, before you even start to talk about yourself, you might want to ask your sponsor to share their experience as a problem drinker BEFORE you start talking.  This way,  you can be reassured that you are not alone and reveal all of your drinking details to an A.A. sponsor in full security.

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How much about my drinking problem should I reveal to an A.A. sponsor?

Tolerance is one principle that true A.A. sponsors practice.  If you’ve got the right sponsor, you can reveal the truth about your drinking problems without worry.  A true A.A. sponsor will have completed the 12 steps of A.A., will have a sponsor themselves, and will continue to practice the 12 steps in their lives.

Other questions about drinking problems?

Ask them here.  We are here to share with your our suggestions and empathy.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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    1. Hi Kathe. First, you can ask around: Stick around for the causal conversations before and after A.A. meetings. Focus these conversations on positive themes. Then, drop into the conversation something like, “Hey, Rose. Do you know of anyone with some sober time who might make a good sponsor and be interested in taking on a new sponsee?” Or, “Pat, I wanted to ask for your feedback on something. What’s a good strategy for finding a sponsor?” You’ll be surprised by the results of your efforts…as you can never really expect what will happen next.

      You can also try finding an AA sponsor online.

  1. I found that telling my own war stories of drinking problems had two different types of effects:

    1. I got to purge the past, and know that I wasn’t that person anymore.

    2. Surprisingly, the worst of the drinking stories I started to laugh at and become a little bit proud of. Maybe it was because I stopped drinking early (at age 27) and didn’t have totally devastating consequences, or maybe it is because I have found a new way of living and cannot imagine my former life…but I hold my horrible past as something that made me who I am today. And I love me!

  2. In my opinion self honesty is a one of the basic required skill one needs to learn to be able to accomplish a long lasting sobriety. One of the main challenge is when an alcoholic starts the process of recovery he/she brings with him/her a long history of lies and other dishonest habits or behaviors. A solution to start breaking the inherited bad habits could be to practice honest communication or “sharing” within a safe environment (sponsor, support group) is an important step he/she should take because it could potentially overtime lead to self honesty.

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