Grosse Pointe News

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Bringing parents, family into the recovery circleFree Access

By Jeff and Debra Jay

My 21-year-old son is in treatment for the second time. He first went to treatment the summer after his freshman year of college. At that time, he was smoking pot daily. Now he’s addicted to opiates — pills when he can get them, but more often than not heroin.

His father and I own a successful business, we live in an upper middle class community and we have always been involved parents. But this has brought us to our knees. When I asked my son’s counselor in treatment what I can do, she said, “Just be his mom.” I was infuriated. What does she think I’ve been his entire life? My son is shooting heroin and could die. Yet this counselor just told me to stay out of it. I’d like to hear your advice.

You are right; there is a great deal you can do. The addiction field has mostly kept family and addict apart, other than a few days in a family program or short education programs. There has been no long-term family inclusion in the recovery process. Treatment centers simply have not known what to do with families.

After working with families more than two decades, we’ve been frustrated by the exclusion of families, too. So we spent several years developing something that brought family members and their addicted loved ones together in a meaningful way, building a cooperative relationship that promotes lasting sobriety. It’s called Structured Family Recovery. There are a couple simple, proactive steps you can take to learn about it. You can go to the Grosse Pointe Public Library and check out the book “It Takes a Family,” by Debra Jay (Hazelden Publishing 2014) or purchase it from a bookseller. You also can visit and watch videos, listen to short podcasts and read an excerpt from the book. With Structured Family Recovery, you will learn what it takes to become a recovery family and exactly what you, as a mom, can do.

Jeff and Debra Jay of Grosse Pointe Farms have helped families overcome addiction more than 30 years. Their best-selling book, “Love First,” is a standard in the field of recovery. Visit