Sponsor Alternatives

Well, as a newcomer, there really is no substitute for a sponsor, but sometimes it may take a while to find someone to work with. It’s also important to create a community of support, not in lieu of a sponsor, but in addition to a sponsor. Accountability Buddies and Recovery Circles are two options for growing your recovery community.

Be sure to check out our recordings from the Secular Sponsor Speaker Series to hear advice for newcomers.

Accountability Buddies, sometimes called Awareness Buddies or Accountability Partners, are two members who help each other find and maintain recovery. Every pairing is different: some want to text each other their daily food plan, some meet once a week by phone to read a Tenth Step, and some meet for coffee and discuss a recovery book they’re reading together. How, when, where, and what is covered is up to each pair to decide. The most important thing is that you’re establishing an important, confidential, and ongoing relationship with another person who has compulsive food behaviors—someone you can call on when times are tough.

Accountability Buddy Workshop Recordings

We’ve offered the workshop several times, and the complete version is the June 28, 2021 recording. The others just include panelist shares and Q&A.

June 28, 2021 (28 min): Buddies Karolina (focus on gratitudes), Kay (focus on 10th Steps), and Elizabeth (focus on bookending and food).
April 3, 2022 (21 min): Buddies Valerie (focus on Steps), Danny (focus on food), Jeanine (focus on trigger item) and Marlene (focus on meditation).

August 14, 2022 (28 min): Buddies Dawn (focus on quick daily text check-ins and weekly chat), Judy (Buddy #1 started with daily food, became a recovery circle book club, Buddy #2 focus on exercise goal, Buddy #3 focus on bookending), Marta (focus on stating commitments through daily email), and Scarlet (Buddy #1 focus on 30 meetings in 30 days, Buddy #2 focus on daily food, Buddy #3 focus on support when feeling weak) .

Accountability Buddies in Secular Overeaters (tips handout, pdf)

The Life of an Accountability Relationship, first person account by Anonymous, Upstate New York, 2022. Check the SecularOvereaters Stories section.

Sponsor Survey Key Takeaways (from the April 2021 Secular Sponsor Survey, 111 respondants)

Workshops are held several times a year. Check the What’s New page for updates.

Some key points

First think about: your program needs; your preferred mode of communication; how much time you can set aside for a new commitment; what time of day and time zone will work for you.

Where to look: take contact info during meetings; post an ad in the meeting chat or on the SO Facebook page or in one of our Google groups. (See below for examples of ads.)

Discuss with potential buddy: mode of contact; frequency, time, and length of meeting; how you’ll parse your meeting for equal sharing; to what extent you’ll allow outside issues; whether and how to provide feedback.

Above all: Agree to Anonymity and confidentiality!!!

Write an ad!

With Zoom meetings, it’s pretty easy to post a message in the Chat (or in one of the Google groups or on the SO Facebook page, Other Secular Resouces) with an announcement that you’re looking for an accountability buddy. Here are some samples:

  • Looking for an accountability buddy to exchange daily food plans and have a weekly phone call. Susan, sugar addict, in Oregon, 123-456-7890.
  • Looking for someone to text “done” to after last meal of day. Would like the same back. US eastern time only, please! Text me so we can discuss. —Jay (555-555-5555)
  • Looking for an accountability buddy to help one other out when we struggle. Please text if you’re interested and we’ll figure things out from there (Adrina) 333-333-3333 (Central European Time).

A Recovery Circle is a small group of 3-6 people who commit to meet on a regular basis to promote their recovery. Usually one person comes up with the kind of group they want (e.g., all atheists, available Sundays, 9am Pacific Time), and then starts looking for others to join. Since this will be a closed group, it’s best to use discretion so that people don’t feel excluded. One of the pluses is that you can have crosstalk and use outside OA resources, if you so choose. Once you find your people you agree on ground rules (e.g., commit to meeting every other week, confidentiality, taking equal turns using a timer, etc.,), and then you’ve got a recovery group! The handout (link below), will give you more helpful tips and ideas. 

Recovery Circles handout (pdf)

Recovery Circles, audio recording from June 2021 presentation (13 min)