It Takes a Family

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.

“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

Available wherever books are sold and from these online retailers

What’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

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

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.

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.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, writing of the most successful companies around the world, said, “In each of these dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, we found the same thing: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul.”1 He could as easily have been writing about Structured Family Recovery®. It is exactly that— a specific process and framework—that keeps families on track in their recovery for the long haul, with the power to keep addicts sober in great numbers and make our families not only good, but great.

Up until now, families have been mostly left out of the recovery equation, which surely contributes to the ubiquitous nature of relapse. Structured Family Recovery® starts with a family and ends with a family recovery team. We support sobriety by bringing together family and addict in a way that creates unity and mutual triumphs. Turning to social science, we learn what really creates change—challenging the things we’ve been taught. We apply discoveries of how the workings of the brain affect how we make real-time choices in life. We put it all together to create a family recovery program that is simple and smart.

Structured Family Recovery® is a GPS system, a way of navigating through addiction and recovery using the elements we know work. It’s about connectivity not isolation. It goes beyond patient-centered care to family-centered recovery. By working together, we create a different story and unshackle ourselves from the power of addiction.

The first section of this book provides a broad scope of knowledge on addiction, recovery, and change, so we can better understand what we’re up against, what’s required for sobriety, and how we can make change last. The second section of the book is the guide for Structured Family Recovery®, putting into action the goals of achieving lasting sobriety and rebuilding family trust and respect.

There are many ways we find help, both for the addict and the family. Treatment and family programs dot the map of this great country, giving us any manner of assistance and head starts. But they don’t keep alcoholics sober or drug addicts clean; they just begin the process. What keeps the addicted from going back to drink or drugs for the long haul is outside the domain of professionals. Programs for families, marvelous as they are brief, don’t prepare us for the day we’re again standing in the kitchen face-to-face with our addict. I recall the words of a woman who’d just smelled alcohol on her recovering husband’s breath: “What do I do now? I went to the family program! No one told me what I do now!”

Structured Family Recovery® is not a response to crisis, but a safeguard against it. We do not stand alone in the kitchen. We stand with family and the entire recovery community. We come prepared for crisis, smoothing the waters with a family living in recovery, gliding forward steadily, with perseverance, over the ripples of turbulence, looking ahead, working for something better, saying farewell to our past ways as best we can. Imperfection is in us and all around us, but we can embrace it as the place where change begins.

Coming together takes the powerless and makes them powerful. Structured Family Recovery® brings this power to the family, and in cooperation with the larger recovery community, stands firm in the face of addiction, which trespassed into our homes and multiplied itself into our lives. We crowd addiction out by building a family life brimming with togetherness and recovery, even though we may start out not knowing our way back to each other.

Rather than leaving families clueless in the dark, second guessing, hoping and praying, we place family smack-dab in the center of recovery. This is when things begin to change. We can no longer leave lasting sobriety to chance, waiting around for the addicted person to figure out what it means to succeed. The cost to families is far too great, and sometimes we pay a price that is beyond what anyone can bear to pay.

Follow the book as it’s written. The information builds on itself to move you forward. Not just with head knowledge, but in real ways to change the course of what’s to come. Recovery is practical. It requires we take action. This book shows families the way into recovery with a step-by-step presentation of the Structured Family Recovery® model. It’s a place where the world begins to change, and it comes from the changes within us.

Families can engage in Structured Family Recovery® on their own or work with an addiction therapist trained specifically to do this work. Whichever you choose, I have only one word for you: commitment. Family members must demonstrate to the addict, in deed, what this word means. Then along the way (usually not immediately noticed), recovery heals us, individually and together.

If we can trust just a bit, if not yet in each other, in the greater providence of good, and walk forward with only the barest of faith, we will find what we could not see before. Too few find their way alone. Let us bring family and the beloved addict together. It is in the “we” that we find an elegance in life that is as sweet as it is powerful.

We belong to one another. Nothing can change that, not estrangement, not even death. Family is defined by belonging. When we use the word family, it’s for each of us to know what that word means—who it is we belong to and who belongs to us. We are born into families, marry into them, or choose them from people we love best. But family goes beyond love; it’s primordial. It defines us. We are born with a deep need for knowing there are people who will always show up when we need them, stick with us through thick and thin, and love us at our best and worst.

As author and columnist Erma Bombeck once said, “We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life . . . inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”

This book is about addiction and family and lasting sobriety, and, ultimately, about working together to find that place where everyone is okay and safe and happy.

(excerpt from the book It Takes a Family)

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