The Benefits of Brotherhood for Long-Term Recovery

The Benefits of Brotherhood for Long-Term Recovery

There is a saying that permeates 12-step recovery. It goes “This a we program, not a me program.” So, what does that mean? It means that when it comes to long-term recovery, it is much harder to do it alone than to do it together. Working with others can mean the difference between relapse and receiving the gift of sobriety.

It is for this reason that we here at Brazos Recovery have such a strong focus on working with others at our treatment center. After all, the primary text of 12-step recovery (the “Big Book”) even has a chapter entitled “Working With Others.” One of the ways we implement this focus is through our “Big Brother Program.”

The Importance of “Shared Experience” in Recovery

One of the co-founders of alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), Bill W., struggled to get sober for many years on his own. This was to no avail. It wasn’t until he determined that he must do two things to achieve long-term recovery. One, he must give himself over to a “power greater than himself,” many of whom may call God. Two, he must work rigorously with other people struggling with addiction. So he reached out to the other co-founder of A.A., Dr. Bob, and got to work working with others.

In the Big Book, Bill W. writes “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics!” Clearly there must be something in this “shared experience” concept. After all, it is estimated that 12-step programs have helped millions of people struggling with addiction and their families achieve long-term recovery.

The Importance of Brotherhood in Recovery

Another primary element within 12-step recovery is the sponsor/sponsee relationship. This involves individuals that have gone through the 12 steps before and achieved recovery working with “newcomers” that are new to the program. Also, this is the embodiment of Bill W.’s mission of working with others.

While it is not a set “rule,” it has been long recommended that the sponsor/sponsee relationship be between people of the same gender identity. Now, this has nothing to do with exclusion, rather it has everything to do with avoiding any sort of external distraction during the fragile time of early sobriety. It has also been found that when people that identify the same work with one another they are more apt to be wholly open and honest.

This is one of the reasons that we here at Brazos Recovery decided to be a male-only recovery center. We want our clients to focus on one thing; their recovery. So, we have found that a same-sex facility best allows for that focus.

Brazos Recovery’s Big Brother Program

Being a male-only recovery center means that we have a huge focus on creating brotherlike relationships. In fact, many of the men that have recovered at Brazos Recovery would say that the brotherly relationships that they forged are stronger than some of the relationships in their own families.

The Big Brother Program at Brazos Recovery allows our new clients to connect with a mentor that is in the last 30 days of their treatment. This bond will help the newcomer acclimate to the facility while also being able to open up honestly about their struggles and their goals for long-term recovery. For many, this bond lasts long after they leave us here at Brazos Recovery. Then for others, these bonds will even last a lifetime.

The Benefits of Brotherhood for Long-Term Recovery

There is a paradoxical concept in 12-step recovery that goes “You have to give it away to keep it.” What this means is that one of the best ways to get out of your own head and stop focusing on your own addiction struggles is to focus on helping someone else. Ultimately, you end up helping yourself just as much as you are helping the other person.

Traditionally the norm has always been that the big brother looks after and protects the little brother. This is also true with the Big Brother Program at Brazos Recovery. However, at our recovery center, brotherhood also goes both ways. Eventually, both brothers look out for each other to ensure that they remain on the right path and are staying accountable to themself and others.

Bill W. also spoke of his past struggles, writing “Those events that once made me feel ashamed and disgraced now allow me to share with others how to become a useful member of the human race.” Sharing our struggles with others in recovery can quite literally save lives. Both our own and others. This is why brotherhood remains so critical at Brazos Recovery. As brothers, we become the best versions of ourselves and we eventually live our best lives in long-term recovery.


A key component of the 12-Step program is the sponsor/sponsee relationship, and at Brazos Recovery this focus starts early with the “big brother program.” Working with others that have gone through the same experiences is vital to recovery. The co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W., and Dr. Bob, believed in this concept wholly. The concept of “one individual in recovery helping another,” is as crucial today as when it was first conceived roughly 88 years ago. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, don’t wait any longer to get the support you need. We are here to help you succeed. For more information on our big brother program, contact Brazos Recovery at (254) 232-1550.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.