A highlight for many men who come to us is the genuine sense of brotherhood that is created in our high-accountability environment. When we founded the center, we wanted to ensure peer accountability was central to all our residents’ recoveries, as it plays a massive part in the 12 Steps. Each resident who follows the 12 Step Completion Program at Brazos Recovery Services will participate in group peer accountability five times a week.
In these groups, we learn to confront one another in a healthy, non-aggressive, and gentle way, which is always rooted in love. What we say isn’t necessarily the most important part – instead, the focus lies in how we can move forward in the right direction, and how we offer our help and support to one another.
Peer accountability can be an intimidating process at first, but as each meeting takes place and the days and weeks pass, we see the difference in the peers who give their all to this aspect of the program. Not only is it beneficial for each person’s self-development – taking them out of ‘self’ and allowing them to see new and different perspectives – it also helps them to become solid sponsors for other peers in the future.
The Fire Circle
The Fire Circle gives our clients the opportunity to receive direct feedback from their peers in a high accountability circle. It is important to remember that feedback is constructive and never an attack – everyone listens, and we take it in turns to talk. We place heavy emphasis on the fact that we are all equals, and there is no hierarchy within the group.
The Fire Circle draws on the methods used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and focuses on the seemingly opposing forces that are acceptance and change. It can be hard for people with drug and alcohol addictions to accept the mistakes they have made. Still, the idea behind this approach is that through acceptance, we can make positive changes from now on, and it has had positive results among our residents.
Steel on Steel
Derived from the verse in Proverbs 27:17, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another’, Steel on Steel is a spiritual exercise we incorporate as part of our peer accountability. The very essence of this verse is steeped in brotherhood, which is precisely why we chose to incorporate this group into the program.
The aim of Steel on Steel is to promote positive action through love
Beginning each session in quiet meditation and prayer, we open up to our peers in this group and offer all of ourselves to be open to critique and correction. While this may sound scary, it provides the opportunity for peers to receive the love and help from the rest of the group.
We focus heavily on our spirit lives within Steel on Steel, holding up a ‘spiritual mirror’ to discuss where we feel we are struggling. It can be in any area, such as our personal relationships, our relationship with God, and our commitment to the 12 Step Completion Program. Each resident answers questions on how they see themselves, and at what point they believe they are at in their recovery. Members of the group then take turns to offer their thoughts on any aspect of what has been shared.
Steel on Steel is a process many of our residents find to be extremely helpful, as sharing something laying heavily on their heart is often the biggest part of the battle – and if someone else shares that he has experienced something similar, the burden gets lighter. We encourage peers not to try and defend themselves in this process, but to listen and write down what is said to them.
At the end of each group session, members are given 24 hours to pray and meditate on the feedback given by their peers and staff. Within this time frame, they will also present adjustment measures to the group, and share specifically what they are going to do. This segment of the process is a key part of accountability, and once a corrective measure has been shared, action must be taken to pursue it.
Peer accountability at Brazos Recovery Services is something we very much encourage, even beyond our residents’ time with us at the center. Having accountability among peers not only relieves pressure when making difficult decisions, but it also creates a further sense of belonging and acceptance – one that can benefit us all in our day-to-day lives.