If You are New and Don’t Have a Sponsor…

I wanted to write a post specific to the issue of what to do if you don’t have a sponsor and want to work DA using the H.O.W. approach. Although this is covered in the post Sponsors are Not Your Higher Power, I think it bears more discussion.

It is especially challenging for newcomers to become motivated enough to get started without a sponsor because, after all, you aren’t sure what to do and want guidance. So you may keep waiting to begin. However, all of us have had to continue our daily program without a sponsor at one time or another. Newcomers just need some guidance on exactly what to do to get started. So I am going to tell you, which means that there is no longer an excuse to get on the road to a new and better life right now! 🙂

Remember, you are committed to recovery and a Higher Power, not to a person.

Here is what you need to do on day one to work the DA H.O.W. program.

Day 1 in recovery

  1. Write down what you plan to spend today. This should be specific to categories. For instance:
    • Groceries: 175
    • Clothing: 80
    • Gas: 60
    • Electric bill: $87.62

    Make a good faith estimate. It should be exact if you know the exact amount, as with the electric bill but, otherwise, overestimate what you will spend. This is because we call before we spend more than we commit (if the total of the committed purchase is up to $5 more than we committed, we don’t have to call – but if it is $5.01, then yes we do call because that is part of the commitment to recovery we make).

  2. Begin with question #1 from the series of questions (Click here to download the DA HOW questions for sponsees) as follows:
    • Work no longer than 15-20 minutes total (unless you want to do more)
    • Split the time between the reading and writing in the assignment.
    • You probably won’t finish answering the question today. Question #1 is a history of your compulsive spending, so it will probably take you awhile to complete.
  3. You need to “turn over” this information before you spend any money. Here are some suggestions:
    • Call at least five DA H.O.W. sponsors to find one who can take your numbers and writing just for this day.
    • If you cannot find a sponsor to speak with, then, at least leave your numbers on a sponsor’s answering machine.
    • If you do not yet know a DA H.O.W. sponsor, then maybe you can call another DA H.O.W. member. Making outreach calls is a tool we use every single day (calling up to five people to reach one). So you are accomplishing a few things with these calls:

      A. You are creating a network of people to help you.
      B. You are getting to know people, which will lead to
      eventually getting a sponsor.
      C. You are meeting the H.O.W. suggestion of outreach.

  4. As you go about your day, only spend what you have committed. If an unexpected expenditure comes up, just text or leave a message for a DA H.O.W. sponsor or another member. Ideally, when you have a sponsor, you would call your sponsor or speak to another sponsor. But you have to make this work for you until you can do so. And you don’t have lots of choices at this time.
  5. Write down or keep your receipts for everything you spent! This is vital.
  6. After you return home, write down your actual spending. I write in a composition notebook that I keep next to my phone. Here is an image of one page:

    At the beginning of the day

    Note: “I” stands for income. I don’t anticipate getting any income on that day. “E” stands for Expense. I draw a line down the center of the page.

    At the end of the day

    Note: I also write to whom I paid the money, if a check, what is the check number, and if more than one store, I add up to total it.

Congratulations! You have just experienced your first day of abstinence. The point is to do your best and not to get frustrated at your efforts. It is not about getting the sponsor, but about learning to live in recovery from compulsive debting and spending.

In my next post, I will explain the next steps for day 2 and beyond when you don’t have a sponsor yet.

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