This comprehensive CRAFT method accomplishes three goals:

  • Helps family members learn ways to encourage their loved one to enter addiction treatment
  • Reduces their loved ones alcohol and drug use whether they’ve entered treatment or not
  • Helps families learn ways to improve their home life

“With CRAFT, family members learn ways to lower loved ones’ defenses and encourage them to speak candidly. The advice essentially boils down to simple steps like asking open-ended questions, complimenting positive behaviors, and echoing the person’s concerns in a nonjudgmental way. Next, they learn to devise ways to improve their home life (without fixing or minimizing the ill effects of the drinking or drug use). When the struggling loved one feels understood and safe, the reasoning goes, he or she will be more willing to be vulnerable, to seek help.” Burt Helm, Boston Globe The End of Hitting Rock Bottom

Research has shown that almost 7 out of 10 people who use the CRAFT program get their substance user to attend treatment and avoids the common notion that you must detach and let your loved one hit rock bottom. It also demonstrates a non-confrontational approach to intervention that’s effective and reduces relationship conflict.

For parents who are new to dealing with their child’s drug and alcohol abuse, they may be wondering if it’s just part of something that many adolescents experiment with or if they have a larger issue with use. Many parents feel helpless and question whether their child’s being honest and feel like the harder they try to understand the angrier and more distant their child becomes. Parents don’t believe substance abuse can go on for a decade, they believe they can send their kid away for 28 days in traditional treatment and everything will be fixed. CRAFT gives parents the tools they need to have empowering conversations. “Communication is key to sending your child a clear message while maintaining a positive relationship. By trying new strategies, you can tackle tough topics in an effective, loving manner,” says Dr. Meyers, creator of CRAFT.

For parents who’ve been in this for a long time, they’re wondering, will my child make it through another day? Do I send them money for cigarettes in jail? CRAFT techniques are helpful for families who have gone through drug and alcohol abuse for years. It teaches you how to set boundaries, “Yes, I will put money in your account but I won’t send you Western Union.” And it gives parents who have tried many methods an opportunity to re-center.

Al-Anon vs. CRAFT (detach with love vs. stronger together)
In Al-Anon, parents are taught they must detach from their child in order to let them hit rock bottom — it’s a disempowering approach that’s been heavily criticized. “Detach felt like crap – even the most successful parent had a daughter in danger and freezing out on the streets.” Former Al-Anon parent. Contrary to that, CRAFT empowers parents to play an active role in helping their child.

CRAFT is part of the future of substance abuse treatment — it’s been proven as a potent method to change your loved ones’ behaviors. Depending on the severity of the misuse, CRAFT may or may not be the only tool a family needs but Family Therapy will certainly be integrated into the new way the world looks at substance abuse and CRAFT is a readily available program to help millions of families in need.

CRAFT Resources

Five myths and truths about CRAFT

Originally published by The Positive Practice Partnership

Receiving affection and compliments for non-using behavior makes that behavior more enjoyable for a loved one. Being nice when they are engaged in sober activities makes it more likely that he or she behaves in that way. It could be said that you are ‘enabling’ healthy behavior: a good thing!

People enter treatment when the reasons not to use outweigh the reasons to use. Research shows that family members can shift the balance so that the user develops enough reasons to stop. A concerned significant other can increase their loved one’s reasons to not use by making sober time more enjoyable than using time. When he or she is not using, they should enjoy good times together. When they do use, withdraw from the situation. The more pleasure a loved one has the opportunity to experience while sober, the less attractive getting drunk or high will be. So it is never too early to use CRAFT.

To the contrary, CRAFT teaches how to map a family member’s patterns to figure out how best to change them. Two critical skills allow this. One is to identify the early triggers and signs of a misusing episode. The other is to determine which consequences can be influenced or orchestrated to manage those episodes.

Substance misuse creates messes: missed work, embarrassing public behavior, vomit, wrecked relationships, and worse. When this happens to a loved one, it is difficult to stand by and watch them suffer. However, fixing the messes and protecting them from their poor choices only makes it okay for them to be repeated. This may be the most difficult lesson of CRAFT. Apart from allowing truly dangerous behavior, a misuser should deal with their own messes – or natural consequences – which are powerful motivators to rethink behavior choices.

No! Between agreeing to enter treatment and making an appointment, a thousand things will change a misusers’ mind. A family worker employing CRAFT should be ready to see them within a day or two. A worker’s intervention can make a difference between them dropping out of treatment of joining you in a happier life.

CRAFT Testimonials –

The Boston Globe – The End of Hitting Rock Bottom

HBO Addiction Series: CRAFT An Alternative to Intervention –

Oprah Magazine (CRA Therapy) – Hi, my name is Amanda…and I might be an alcoholic –

Introducing Parent CRAFT

Parent CRAFT A fast-paced and engaging video-based course that teaches parents the skills they need to meet the challenge of substance abuse.

Parent CRAFT was created to provide immediate online access for all parents to the proven CRAFT training as an alternative to searching for difficult to find and more expensive in-person CRAFT classes.