Helping Our Son

A letter from one of our readers…

A letter from one of our readers…

Dear Jeff and Debra,

Our teenage son is on the road to recovery from problems with prescription pain killers. How can we learn how to be supportive, beyond the basics we learned from his treatment providers?

—Pensive Parents

Dear Pensive,

Your question is important, because most families (and most patients in treatment) underestimate what will be required to maintain long-term recovery. Treatment is just the beginning of the process, a launching padfor recovery. In treatment, the acute phase of the illness is arrested through detox and stabilization, followed by counseling and education, which lay  groundwork for the months and years of recovery ahead.

Most good treatment providers have family programs, but they are brief and don’t prepare parents for the difficulties that may lie ahead, especially the specter of relapse. Families can play an active and positive role in recovery, which is critical after treatment has concluded.


Hazelden recently published “It Takes a Family: A Co-operative Approach to Lasting Sobriety,” by Debra Jay. This book lays out a year-long program for families and their addicted loved ones called Structured Family Recovery™ (SFR). The SFR system is based on weekly conferences, led by a trained SFR counselor, that promote recovery, prevent relapse, prioritize issues and provide a common language of recovery.

Togetherness creates transparency and positive accountability in a manner that prevents addiction from regaining control. In the past, families were often sidelined in the recovery process, but this new approach puts family members back in the picture, so relapse is avoided and the family is once again united.

This post originally appeared in the Grosse Pointe News

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. ––Debra Jay, “It Takes a Family”

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