An approach to dealing with addiction that engages families is gaining ground, The Boston Globe reports. Through Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), family members motivate loved ones to seek help for addiction.
CRAFT suggests conversational techniques, helpful questions and ways of responding to the behavior of a person with a substance use disorder. Proponents of the approach say CRAFT makes loved ones feel listened to, empowered and supported.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids introduced a program called the Parent Support Network in 2013, which uses parent coaches trained in CRAFT to provide peer-to-peer coaching for parents whose children are struggling with drugs and alcohol.
This fall, a startup company called Cadence Online introduced an online CRAFT course developed with Robert J. Meyers, the psychologist who developed CRAFT, and A. Thomas McLellan, Chairman and Co-founder of Treatment Research Institute.
Of the estimated 20 million people in the United States who have a substance use disorder, 19 million of them say they don’t need help, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The prevailing wisdom is that people who are resistant to treatment are in denial, and cannot be helped until they hit rock bottom, declare themselves addicted and become sober.
Psychologists who employ CRAFT say the concepts of being in denial and hitting bottom are not rooted in science. The premise of CRAFT is that most people with substance use disorders know their drug use causes problems, but they do not want to admit it because they risk losing their dignity, access to drugs, and possibly their freedom.
Families are encouraged to ask open-ended questions, compliment positive behaviors and echo the person’s concerns without judgment. They also learn ways to improve their home life, without minimizing the damaging effects of drinking or drug use. By making their loved one feel understood and safe, CRAFT proponents say, family members will encourage them to be vulnerable and seek help.
Several studies have found CRAFT can be more effective than Al-Anon or traditional interventions in encouraging people struggling with addiction to seek help, the article notes.