It Takes a Family

It Takes a Family: a cooperative approach to lasting sobriety

Publishers Weekly praised “It Takes a Family” as a “valuable addition to the literature on addiction.” The review gave a wonderfully concise overview of Debra Jay’s system of Structured Family Recovery® and how it supports both the addict and the family.


“Jay (Love First), an alcohol and drug counselor, presents a plan she calls “Structured Family Recovery,” which aims to bring family members together into a supportive, cohesive team. The book begins by asking why, according to Jay, 50%–90% of alcoholics and addicts relapse in the first year after treatment. Jay addresses the complex ramifications of the disease of addiction and reveals how the addict’s brain is altered by this physical and “spiritual” sickness. To create an effective family-centered, continuing-care approach, she draws on the Physician Health Program (a successful plan used to treat addicted physicians), arguing that this “gold standard of treatment” should be available to all.


logo-trans“At the core of Jay’s program is a weekly phone conference among family members, to which the addict is invited once the group is firmly established. Other essential elements include enrollment in a 12-step program and attendance at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon (for alcoholics’ family members), or another appropriate support group. Jay clearly explains how to run a conference call, come up with discussion topics for a year of meetings, and form cooperative family partnerships to support loved ones on the recovery path in this valuable addition to the literature on addiction.” — Publishers Weekly

Relapse is the problem

Debra Jay’s revolutionary new book takes a fresh approach to the recovery process by making family members and friends part of the recovery team, beginning in the early stages of sobriety. It Takes a Family presents the Structured Family Recovery® process, a year-long program for families.


While most alcoholics and addicts coming out of treatment have a basic aftercare plan, families are often left in the dark. Debra Jay uses straightforward, compassionate language to outline a structured model that shows family members both how to take personal responsibility and to build a circle of support to meet the obstacles common to the first year of recovery.

Together, family members address the challenges of enabling, denial, and pain while developing their communication skills through practical, easy-to-follow strategies and exercises designed to create transparency and accountability. With this invaluable guide, family members work together as they reinvent their relationships without the all-consuming dysfunction of active addiction.


It Takes a Family includes an year-long blueprint for family meetings, that include an introduction to the 12 Steps for families, weekly topics and readings, guidelines for discussion, directions for creating a relapse plan, and much more.



Available wherever books are sold — and — from these online retailers


Library-Journal-logoWhat’s different about alcohol/drug counselor Jay’s guidebook on the healing process is that she makes family members part of the recovery team. Jay (No More Letting Go) begins with the newest medical models of addiction and relapse and describes the essence of the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. She then portrays and sets forth a guide for Structured Family Recovery, wherein family members discuss the joys as well as the frustrations of the recovery process, hold one another accountable, and present ideas for a recovery plan. Forty-six detailed meeting plans compose the final section of the book.


VERDICT: Highly recommended for basic information about addiction as well as a guide for the recovery process. –Library Journal


Debra Jayexcerpt from It Takes a Family

We Come Home Together

Structured Family Recovery® is so simple, so obvious, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been documented before. Often the truly simple is the most revolutionary.


Success doesn’t come magically or accidentally. It is a result of what we do. The same can be said of failure. Usually it is a small change in one direction or the other that determines if we win or lose. Structured Family Recovery helps us make the correct choices and then steadily keeps us on course over time. (Read More)



The ultimate purpose of Structured Family Recovery® is creating a family and friends team that supports long term recovery.  This process will help lower the risk of relapse and rebuild trust. The team meets with the Structured Family Recovery™ therapist every week by conference call. Working together the team will accomplish these goals:

  1. Increasing understanding of the disease of addiction and the recovery process
  2. Rebuilding trust and accountability through honest communication and behavior changes that support family recovery and healing
  3. Creating personalized recovery plans for each family member
  4. Identifying early family relapse warning signs and developing mutually agreed upon relapse prevention and early relapse response plans.
  5. Coordinating communication with the treatment team and involving the family in aftercare planning
  6. Learning how to support each other in recovery


To work with a Structured Family Recovery® counselor call 888-220-4400


For professionals…

training opportunities with Jeff and Debra Jay

Love First Certified Clinical Interventionist

Debra Jay will be presenting clinical trainings for professionals who wish to become certified in Structured Family Recovery®. Please visit our training page for more information. Also, sign up for our email list for training updates and special offers here.