AA History

A.A. Sponsorship Pamphlet

Posted by Love and Service

This is the first pamphlet ever written concerning sponsorship. It was written by Clarence
H. Snyder in early 1944. Its original title was to be “A.A. Sponsorship…Its Obligations and
Its Responsibilities.” It was printed by the Cleveland Central Committee under the title;
“A.A. Sponsorship… Its Opportunities and Its Responsibilities.”

Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is a potential sponsor of a new member and
should clearly recognize the obligations and duties of such responsibility.

The acceptance of an opportunity to take the A.A. plan to a sufferer of alcoholism entails
very real and critically important responsibilities. Each member, undertaking the
sponsorship of a fellow alcoholic, must remember that he is offering what is frequently the
last chance of rehabilitation, sanity or maybe life itself.

Happiness, Health, Security, Sanity and Life of human beings are the things we hold in
balance when we sponsor an alcoholic.

No member among us is wise enough to develop a sponsorship program that can be
successfully applied in every case. In the following pages, however, we have outlined a
suggested procedure, which supplemented by the member’s own experience, has proven

No one reaps full benefit from any fellowship he is connected with unless he wholeheartedly
engages in its important activities. The expansion of Alcoholics Anonymous to
wider fields of greater benefit to more people results directly from the addition of new,
worth-while members or associates.

Any A.A. who has not experienced the joys and satisfaction of helping another alcoholic
regain his place in life has not yet fully realized the complete benefits of this fellowship.
On the other hand, it must be clearly kept in mind that the only possible reason for
bringing an alcoholic into A.A. is for that person’s gain. Sponsorship should never be
undertaken to –
1. Increase the size of the group
2. For personal satisfaction and glory
3. Because the sponsor feels it his duty to re-make the world
Until an individual has assumed the responsibility of setting a shaking, helpless human
being back on the path toward becoming a healthy useful, happy member of society, he has
not enjoyed the complete thrill of being an A.A.

Most people have among their own friends and acquaintances someone who would benefit
from our teachings. Others have names given to them by their church, by their doctor, by
their employer, or by some other member, who cannot make a direct contact.

Because of the wide range of the A.A. activities, the names often come from unusual and
unexpected places.

These cases should be contacted as soon as all facts such as: marital status, domestic
relations, financial status, drink habits, employment status and others readily obtainable are
at hand.

Much time and effort can be saved by learning as soon as possible if –
1. The man* really has a drinking problem?
2. Does he know he has a problem?
3. Does he want to do something about his drinking?
4. Does he want help?

*The masculine form is used throughout for simplicity, although it is intended to include women as well.
Sometimes the answers to these questions cannot be made until the prospect has had some
A.A. instruction, and an opportunity to think. Often we are given names, which upon
investigation, show the prospect is in no sense an alcoholic, or is satisfied with his present
plan of living. We should not hesitate to drop these names from our lists. Be sure,
however, to let the man know where he can reach us at a later date.

A.A. is a fellowship of men and women bound together by their inability to use alcohol in
any form sensibly, or with profit or pleasure. Obviously, any new members introduced
should be the same kind of people, suffering from the same disease.

Most people can drink reasonably, but we are only interested in those who cannot. Party
drinkers, social drinkers, celebrators, and others who continue to have more pleasure than
pain from their drinking, are of no interest to us.

In some instances an individual might believe himself to be a social drinker when he
definitely is an alcoholic. In many such cases more time must pass before that person is
ready to accept our program. Rushing such a man before he is ready might ruin his chances
of ever becoming a successful A.A.. Do not ever deny future help by pushing too hard in
the beginning.

Some people, although definitely alcoholic, have no desire or ambition to better their way
of living, and until they do…….. A.A. has nothing to offer them.
Experience has shown that age, intelligence, education, background, or the amount of
liquor drunk, has little, if any, bearing on whether or not the person is an alcoholic.

In many cases a man’s physical condition is such that he should be placed in a hospital, if
at all possible. Many A.A. members believe hospitalization, with ample time for the
prospect to think and plan his future, free from domestic and business worries, offers
distinct advantage. In many cases the hospitalization period marks the beginning of a new
life. Other members are equally confident that any man who desires to learn the A.A. plan
for living can do it in his own home or while engaged in normal occupation. Thousands of
cases are treated in each manner and have proved satisfactory.

The following paragraphs outline a suggested procedure for presenting the A.A. plan to the
prospect, at home or in the hospital.

1. In calling upon a new prospect, it has been found best to qualify oneself as an ordinary
person who has found happiness, contentment, and peace of mind through A.A.
Immediately make it clear to the prospect that you are a person engaged in the routine
business of earning a living. Tell him your only reason for believing yourself able to help
him is because you yourself are an alcoholic and have had experiences and problems that
might be similar to his.

2. Many members have found it desirable to launch immediately into their personal
drinking story, as a means of getting the confidence and whole-hearted co-operation of the
prospect. It is important in telling the story of your drinking life to tell it in a manner that will
describe an alcoholic, rather than a series of humorous drunken parties. this will enable the
man to get a clear picture of an alcoholic which should help him to more definitely decide
whether he is an alcoholic.

3. In many instances the prospect will have tried various means of controlling his drinking,
including hobbies, church, changes of residence, change of associations, and various
control plans. These will, of course, have been unsuccessful. Point out your series of
unsuccessful efforts to control drinking…their absolute fruitless results and yet that you
were able to stop drinking through application of A.A. principles. This will encourage the
prospect to look forward with confidence to sobriety in A.A. in spite of the many past
failures he might have had with other plans.

4. Tell the prospect frankly that he can not quickly understand all the benefits that are
coming to him through A.A.. Tell him of the happiness, peace of mind, health, and in
many cases, material benefits which are possible through understanding and application of
the A.A. way of life.

5. Explain the necessity of reading and re-reading the A.A. book. Point out that this book
gives a detailed description of the A.A. tools and the suggested methods of application of
these tools to build a foundation of rehabilitation for living. This is a good time to
emphasize the importance of the twelve steps and the four absolutes.

6. Convey to the prospect that the objectives of A.A. are to provide the ways and means for
an alcoholic to regain his normal place in life. Desire, patience, faith, study and application
are most important in determining each individual’s plan of action in gaining full benefits
of A.A.

7. Since the belief of a Power greater than oneself is the heart of the A.A. plan, and since
this idea is very often difficult for a new man, the sponsor should attempt to introduce the
beginnings of an understanding of this all-important feature.
Frequently this can be done by the sponsor relating his own difficulty in grasping a
spiritual understanding and the methods he used to overcome his difficulties.

8. While talking to the newcomer, take time to listen and study his reactions in order that
you can present your information in a more effective manner. let him talk too. remember…
Easy Does It.

9. To give the new member a broad and complete picture of A.A., the sponsor should take
him to various meetings within convenient distance of his home. Attending several
meetings gives a new man a chance to select a group in which he will be most happy and
comfortable, and it is extremely important to let the prospect make his own decision as to
which group he will join. Impress upon him that he is always welcome at any meeting and
can change his home group if he so wishes.

10. A successful sponsor takes pains and makes any required effort to make certain that
those people closest and with the greatest interest in their prospect (mother, father, wife,
etc.) are fully informed of A.A., its principles and its objectives. The sponsor sees that
these people are invited to meetings, and keeps them in touch with the current situation
regarding the prospect at all times.

11. A prospect will gain more benefit from a hospitalization period if the sponsor describes
the experience and helps him anticipate it, paving the way for those members who will call
on him.

These suggestions for sponsoring a new man in A.A. teachings are by no means complete.
They are intended only for a framework and general guide. Each individual case is
different and should be treated as such. Additional information for sponsoring a new man
can be obtained from the experience of older men in the work. A co-sponsor, with an
experienced and newer member working on a prospect, has proven very satisfactory.
Before undertaking the responsibility of sponsoring, a member should make certain that he
is able and prepared to give the time, effort, and thought such an obligation entails. It
might be that he will want to select a co-sponsor to share the responsibility, or he might
feel it necessary to ask another to assume the responsibility for the man he has located.

*These headings were not in the original draft for this pamphlet. They were added for the
first, and subsequent printings.

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