Family Members Motivate Loved Ones to Seek Help for Addiction With CRAFT Training

Parenting 12-8-15

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.

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    Jessica Jobes

    January 19, 2016 at 1:43 PM

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article about CRAFT, this method is working for many families and we’d like to be able to reach so many more in need.

    A father with an 18 year old daughter using drugs and alcohol recently completed the Parent CRAFT course at: – and shared his thoughts. “My daughter is struggling with drugs and alcohol and we’ve been looking at all avenues to help her. Thank you for the opportunity with Parent CRAFT, many of the instructional tools have made me seriously reconsider my communication approaches with her.”

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    ann remington

    December 11, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Let me start with….back in the day…I helped my x-husband call some places to get help because he was too sick to do it himself. The response I got was “Why isn’t he calling for himself”. Today, I think how insane that was. Family members had nowhere to turn but Alanon. I am a recovering professional who has worked in the field for more than three decades. I helped to start one of the first “family” programs in a facility where I worked treating addicts in my 20’s. I feel blessed to have gotten clean and sober at 19 but that did address my co-dependency. I had looked for help and wanted to help others. Even today, it’s sad that in many places, as little treatment that is available to addicts, there is far less for family members. I know that Alanon has been helpful for many and many are grateful, but it’s not treatment and is very limited. 30+ yrs ago I tried Alanon and several times since. I have found that individuals attending are very reluctant to share anything personal. In larger cities, it better but no so much in more rural ones. The drug epidemic with opioids has made families desperate enough that they don’t care who knows what. Now is the time to reach out to these folks to get them practical tools instead of this mantra of “you need to look at yourself”. Yes we do, but when your in a daily crisis you need practical tools! Alanon like AA has it’s place but more is needed. This program is a definite additional tool to help families who care.

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    Fr. Jack Kearney

    December 10, 2015 at 8:16 PM

    CRAFT is a wonderful, evidence-based practice for family intervention, as are the Johnson and ARISE approaches. Al-Anon does not belong in the conversation, as it is a self-help group whose purpose does not include intervening on family members. All of these are good tools for family members who deal with addicted loved ones.

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    Dr. Mark R. Edison

    December 8, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    If you’re lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, there’s also a free CRAFT program you can use right on the web: It’s at, and it’s paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. To use this free service, Massachusetts residents must put their zip code in the promotional code box.

    If you’re not a Massachusetts resident, you can still use the service for $7 per month, which is a fraction of the cost of seeing most CRAFT therapists. I know this because I am a psychologist who provides CRAFT — even though I practice in New York City.

    I also know the founder of Allies in Recovery, Dr. Dominique Simon-Levine. I looked her up years ago when I was beginning my career as a psychologist, and she was generous with her time and help. She was an early adopter of CRAFT and her web service, which I’ve reviewed, can give a lot of people help with their substance-misusing loved ones.

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    I Cooney

    December 8, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    Thank you for spreading the word about CRAFT. Your readers should know that CRAFT has been given a huge vote of confidence by the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

    As of 2014, ALL Mass residents have been granted free membership to the premier online learning platform teaching CRAFT: When registering, Mass residents simply enter their zip code as their promotional code. Out of state membership remains low-cost: 7$/month.

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