• Books by Jeff Jay and Debra Jay

It Takes a Family

Creating lasting sobriety, togetherness and happiness

It Takes a Family, 2nd edition (Hazelden), helps families step beyond the initial family intervention and reinvent their relationships in a way that builds trustworthiness, prevents relapse, and supports lifelong sobriety. It is a journey the newly recovering loved one and family take together and quickly find an indispensable part of their lives.

The book outlines a structured model for creating a family recovery team that quickly infuses family with a sense of togetherness, purpose, and a positive-brain experience. This model is called Structured Family Recovery® (SFR). With 50 weekly SFR meeting in the book, taking place using conference calls, family members can live anywhere and still participate. As one family member said of Structured Family Recovery, “During our recovery journey, our SFR counselor was the first person to treat us like a family full of love rather than a broken family.”

This new edition is now written as a companion book to Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention.

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

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

It Takes a FamilyIt Takes a Family – new for 2021

This revolutionary book shows families how to support their loved one’s new sobriety and bring the family back together again. Structured Family Recovery® is the key. This book is an essential guide and it is the companion to “Love First.”


Debra Jay reads the Introduction & Chapter 1
of It Takes a Family.

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

What people are saying about It Takes a Family
& Structured Family Recovery®

“Structured Family Recovery has been a gift from God for me. The process allows me to share in my recovery with my family, and it has really helped me understand the family disease of drug and alcohol abuse. The biggest lie I told myself as an addict was that I was only hurting myself. The SFR process has taught me that this is a lie and has been instrumental in the healing process between me and my family.”
—J. F., recovering from alcohol and drug addiction

“SFR helped me save my life. After confronting years of addiction, twelve difficult weeks in treatment, and the prospect of starting over entirely, SFR became an anchor to a loving, nonjudgmental group of friends and family. I am in a place where I feel joy unlike I’ve ever experienced, and my relationships with my parents, extended family, and life partner have deepened in ways I couldn’t have imagined. SFR has been the perfect complement to my Twelve Step recovery journey, and it introduced and strengthened a connection with my family that most addicts I know don’t have. I am so grateful for the opportunity to build my SFR identity, and I look forward to carrying the SFR program and message to the addict that still suffers.”
—D. C., recovering addict

“The SFR program saved our family—not just the addict but our entire family. It guided us to open and honest communication and taught us how to love and trust again; while helping us realize our inner strengths and how to use them. We are forever indebted to Debra Jay and her commitment to families and her dedication to helping us find our way back to each other. What we created through SFR is a long-term, ongoing fellowship and commitment to maintaining recovery.”
—D. C., father of a beloved recovering addict

“Structured Family Recovery allowed me to bridge the gap between my recovery and my family’s recovery. This process is unparalleled to any type of therapy I have been part of since my journey began in 2016. It has allowed me time to process sensitive topics in my own Twelve Step meeting with the ability to bring insight gained back to my family in a safe and structured environment. SFR taught me to stay in my own lane of recovery but if I look over, I will see family traveling down the same road and that is a priceless gift of recovery.”
–L.S, spouse of a beloved recovering addict

“Our family was reeling. Our son was lost in addition, with all of the attendant secrecy, lies, erratic behavior and health issues that can accompany the disease. As parents, we alternated between denial and ineffective over-reaction, guilt and excuse-making. We were all in great pain, spinning out of control until we immersed ourselves into Structured Family Recovery. Our son is now 5 years sober because he, and we, committed to the program.  It wasn’t easy, but the journey has transformed us all in unimaginable ways. “Grateful and blessed” can’t begin to express how all of us feel!”
–A.R. & G.R., Bloomfield, MI

“I remember the exact moment in time when I read the opening pages to Debra Jay’s It Takes a Family, and I began to feel the slightest dawn of hope emerge in my soul. I was sitting on a bed in a hotel room, in a city far away from my own and fully believing that my life was over. My spouse was in an inpatient rehab facility, and I was visiting him. I opened the pages, and I couldn’t believe that someone had dedicated their entire career to helping strangers like me. I was overwhelmed at the guidebook in my hand—it was a flashlight in the dark. During our recovery journey, our SFR counselor was the first person to treat us like a family full of love rather than a broken family.”
—K. F., wife of a beloved recovering alcoholic and addict

“Thank you, Debra Jay, for helping our family to find a clear path forward out of sadness and despair. Our family is working our way through your book for a second time and finding new wisdom and support on each page. We could have so easily fallen apart. And yet, with the help of the Twelve Steps and our wise and patient SFR counselor, this program has given us an opportunity to reflect, learn, and stay connected and supportive of each other.”
—L. S. H., father-in-law of a beloved recovering alcoholic and addict

“The SFR program has offered me and my dear family the time, the focus, and unfailingly positive support to have meaningful conversations. Addiction brought me to this program, but the healing of old wounds and the progress toward building even better family relationships has helped me to look forward to every SFR session.”
—K. H., mother-in-law of a beloved recovering alcoholic and addict

“To me, SFR has been a pathway to greater independence, self-respect, integrity, and accountability for each person on the team. SFR is not just for the addict/alcoholic; it is a vehicle that affords personal growth to each member of the family team. I can’t say enough about SFR.”
—D.C.C., father of two beloved addicted sons in recovery

“I remember being so afraid initially of the SFR phone dialogue, but very quickly that feeling was replaced with an eager anticipation of each meeting. It is such a well thought out and thorough program. The topic each week and the goal setting helped us keep focus on the importance of continually working this program. And the collaboration with all of the family members made such an integral component in the commitment and perseverance that we used to motivate ourselves each day. A true benefit, and one that we believe would never have happened if not for SFR, was the vast array of topics discussed openly and thoughtfully by my adult children with us. We were privileged to hear deep thoughts, desires, and goals of our family. The discussions were intimate and mainly about each of us as individuals. We came away from this past year of SFR with skills and confidence to handle the crises that may come to our lives. And I happily can say that our son is in recovery and maintaining his sobriety. SFR is a tool to build families into stronger units and guide families on what to expect and how to respond to our person who is afflicted. It is a wonderful program that has helped us immensely.”
—D.F. and S.F., parents of a beloved recovering addict

Copyright © 2000-2021 Love First, Inc. All rights reserved. ••• Structured Family Recovery® is a Registered Trademark of Debra Jay.
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