substance abuse addiction treatment new jersey

Sponsor Checklist: 7 Things to Look for when Choosing a Sponsor

7 Things to Look for when Choosing a Sponsor

  1. They have more time than you… a lot more time. In treatment communities where patients transition through levels of care, there are a lot of people who are within their first year of recovery. There is nothing wrong with being sponsored by someone who has only a few more months than you. It might be beneficial to look for someone who has gotten past the first few years of recovery. With multiple years under their belt, a sponsor has started to experience life on life’s terms again. Most importantly, they are doing it sober.
  2. They have completed the 12 steps… a few times. The primary purpose of a sponsor is to assist a newcomer in taking the 12 steps. When meetings of AA started growing after the development of the 12 steps, there weren’t enough people to help the newcomer. Sponsorship was developed to solve that problem. Today, the sponsor relationship has morphed into a mentor, peer, and support system. To get the most out of recovery, it is important to complete the 12 steps. Your sponsor should have working knowledge of the 12 steps and be able to guide you through them. The 12 steps are the program of recovery outlined by AA.
  3. They have what you want… and you’re willing to work to get it. Since sponsors today act as role models and sober mentors, they should be people we admire. Something about the way they act, who they are, or what they have accomplished in life should inspire us. Impressed by what they have achieved, we can believe that if we stay sober and work a program like they do, we can live a similar life.
  4. They have a sponsor… and they still talk to them. Our sponsors do not know everything. They certainly shouldn’t act that way! It is an important example for sponsors to set that it is OK to ask for help, even with years of sobriety. Humility is an important tenet of recovery. Remaining teachable is key to a spiritual program.
  5. They attend meetings… and encourage you to go. Your sponsor should be active in the program of AA, regularly attending meetings and encouraging you to attend. Being in meetings means hearing the experience, strength, and hope of other recovering addicts or alcoholics.
  6. They work a spiritual program…. and they’re rigorously honest. Honesty is one of the core requirements for working a program of recovery. Your sponsor should be beyond lying- to themselves or others. Since the 12 step program of recovery is a path to the spiritual solution, your sponsor should have a solid sense of spirituality. They strive to dive deeper and learn more to gain a closer relationship with their higher power.
  7. They are someone you can trust… and you’re willing to trust them. Certain steps in the 12 step program include getting very open about some of your deepest resentments and fears in life. To best support you on your spiritual journey through the 12 steps, your sponsor should be someone you feel you can trust. Not only can you trust them, you are willing to trust them. Working with someone you don’t feel you can or are willing to trust will result in a lack of honesty on your part. Now is the time to get it all out there.

Enlightened Solutions uses 12 step philosophy as part of our holistic program for treating drug and alcohol addiction. We support our residents in finding a sponsor and taking the 12 steps while they are in treatment. Our program is open to men and women seeking recovery from addiction. There is a solution. Find it with us. 833-801-5483.


substance abuse addiction treatment new jersey

Sponsor Checklist: 7 Things to Look for when Choosing a Sponsor

7 Things to Look for when Choosing a Sponsor

  1. They have more time than you… a lot more time. In treatment communities where patients transition through levels of care, there are a lot of people who are within their first year of recovery. There is nothing wrong with being sponsored by someone who has only a few more months than you. It might be beneficial to look for someone who has gotten past the first few years of recovery. With multiple years under their belt, a sponsor has started to experience life on life’s terms again. Most importantly, they are doing it sober.
  2. They have completed the 12 steps… a few times. The primary purpose of a sponsor is to assist a newcomer in taking the 12 steps. When meetings of AA started growing after the development of the 12 steps, there weren’t enough people to help the newcomer. Sponsorship was developed to solve that problem. Today, the sponsor relationship has morphed into a mentor, peer, and support system. To get the most out of recovery, it is important to complete the 12 steps. Your sponsor should have working knowledge of the 12 steps and be able to guide you through them. The 12 steps are the program of recovery outlined by AA.
  3. They have what you want… and you’re willing to work to get it. Since sponsors today act as role models and sober mentors, they should be people we admire. Something about the way they act, who they are, or what they have accomplished in life should inspire us. Impressed by what they have achieved, we can believe that if we stay sober and work a program like they do, we can live a similar life.
  4. They have a sponsor… and they still talk to them. Our sponsors do not know everything. They certainly shouldn’t act that way! It is an important example for sponsors to set that it is OK to ask for help, even with years of sobriety. Humility is an important tenet of recovery. Remaining teachable is key to a spiritual program.
  5. They attend meetings… and encourage you to go. Your sponsor should be active in the program of AA, regularly attending meetings and encouraging you to attend. Being in meetings means hearing the experience, strength, and hope of other recovering addicts or alcoholics.
  6. They work a spiritual program…. and they’re rigorously honest. Honesty is one of the core requirements for working a program of recovery. Your sponsor should be beyond lying- to themselves or others. Since the 12 step program of recovery is a path to the spiritual solution, your sponsor should have a solid sense of spirituality. They strive to dive deeper and learn more to gain a closer relationship with their higher power.
  7. They are someone you can trust… and you’re willing to trust them. Certain steps in the 12 step program include getting very open about some of your deepest resentments and fears in life. To best support you on your spiritual journey through the 12 steps, your sponsor should be someone you feel you can trust. Not only can you trust them, you are willing to trust them. Working with someone you don’t feel you can or are willing to trust will result in a lack of honesty on your part. Now is the time to get it all out there.

Enlightened Solutions uses 12 step philosophy as part of our holistic program for treating drug and alcohol addiction. We support our residents in finding a sponsor and taking the 12 steps while they are in treatment. Our program is open to men and women seeking recovery from addiction. There is a solution. Find it with us. 833-801-5483.


What that “Ah-ha!” Moment Looks Like in Your Brain

“Burning Bush” is a description used to communicate a sudden and profound spiritual experience, usually leading to an awakening or deeper understanding. In early recovery, the recovering brain is still impaired in its cognitive capabilities. Cognitive function is critical to creating knowledge. The ability to grasp big ideas, vague topics, and intangible concepts can be challenging to the recovering brain. Spirituality is unchartered waters to many entering recovery for the first time. Grasping and developing a spiritual manner of living without the ability to grasp and develop spiritual ideas can be frustrating. While others are experiencing mind-blowing “ah-ha” moments, others are struggling to remember what day it is.

Thankfully, as The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous points out in its Appendix titled “Spiritual Experience”, having a sudden and profound realization is not required. Most people’s experiences, the authors explain, “develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone.”

Much of that change does happen on it’s own in the brain, however stimulated by spiritual experience. Some call profound moments creativity, or “flow”. Spiritually minded people might regard such moments as when we allow our Higher Power to flow freely through us. Catching onto the constant current of the Universe, we witness just a small moment of it’s mystery. Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project, Steve Kotler, says that “flow” happens in a third brain wave state.

Specifically, being in the spiritual flow has to do with neuroelectricity. A daydream-like state is considered being “alpha”. Hanging between daydreaming and sleeping is “theta”. Alpha and theta refer to the oscillation of brain waves. Kotler found that in between those two states is the “gamma” state where flow and profound realizations happen.

In a gamma state, the brain is producing brainwaves at the fastest rate it possibly can, between 38 to 42 times per second. Staying in gamma all the time is unsustainable. That is why our “burning bush” moments are short-lasting. The brain can only connect in short bursts. Since the quick spike is so powerful, that is why spiritual experiences and profound moments feel so profound. At the climax of that moment, the brain is working at it’s highest possible capacity.

Enlightened Solutions sees the transformational power of the spiritual experience occur in our patients. Utilizing twelve step philosophy with spiritual practices and evidence-based treatment brings our patients to heightened states. Transcending the clutches of drugs and alcohol, along with co-occurring disorders, they learn to live new lives. For more information on our programs of treatment for addiction, alcoholism, and dual-diagnosis, call 833-801-5483.


Is Empathy a Universal Trait?

Empathy is a universal language of recognizing in others what we are able to recognize in ourselves. If I have been through an experience you are describing, I am able to emotionally and intuitively relate to what you are saying. Not only do I understand, I have a deep comprehension of where you are. So to speak, I have walked a mile in your shoes.

One of the most basic human needs, especially in recovery, is to feel understood. Without being addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is hard to understand the depth of addiction. Family members and friends struggle to truly grasp the experience of addiction their loved ones are witnessing. Compassionately, they acknowledge how their loved one suffers, and they sympathize with their experience. Yet, they struggle in developing the empathy needed for validation.

Being in treatment or the rooms of 12 step fellowships offers solidarity in these departments. Walking into a room of like-minded, like-lived people is a sense of relief to many addicts in recovery. In all the world, there is at least one place where they know they will be understood. Someone, at some point in their life has lived through similar trial, tribulation, and even triumph. This sort of fellowship is a keystone in the continuum of recovery.

Is Empathy a Universal Trait?

Is everyone so kind? Research shows that the answer is conditional according to perceived struggle. It might be expected that the people who have suffered the most would have the greatest empathy. Quartz did a social experiment revealing that, at times, those with recent relevant experience were less inclined to have compassion and more inclined to show contempt. For example, one study examined bullying. Participants in the study reacted to two types of people who had overcome bullying. The first coped with the bullying in a way that was defined as successful. The second coped with bullying through violence and lashing out. Compared to people who had not experienced bullying, the people who had were most compassionate toward the successful subject. Yet, for the subject who reacted in violence, people who had experienced bullying themselves were the least compassionate, comparatively. Researchers believe it is a combination of forgetting what it was like, and the ability to overcome such hardships, that turn people cold.

Conclusively, the study reveals an important part of recovery: remembering what it was like. There is no need to stay haunted by one’s past, but rather embrace the humility of recognizing the hardships we have faced. It is important not to lose sight of how far you’ve come because of where you started. We remember that each person’s journey is unique.

Enlightened Solutions offers a spiritual solution to the problem of pervasive drug and alcohol addiction. Our multidisciplinary program offers a holistic approach to healing rooted in twelve step philosophy. It starts with hope. Start your journey to recovery with us. For more information on our treatment programs please call 833-801-5483.