Lecturing your child on why they should stop using substances often falls on deaf ears. Trying to yell and punish them may work in the short term but likely won’t have a lasting impact. Others may tell you that you have to let your child figure it out and that they will accept help only “when they want it,” usually after a pile of consequences have occurred.
But there’s another way.
If your teen or young adult child is experimenting with alcohol and other substances or has a full-blown substance use disorder, you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed and helpless. Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT, is a scientifically proven approach to help parents and other caregivers change their child’s substance use by staying involved in a positive, ongoing way.
CRAFT, created by Dr. Robert Meyers and expanded upon by the psychologists at the CMC: Foundation for Change, is an approach to help family members change the way they have been interacting with their child to influence choices around substance use.
CRAFT provides families like yours with tools to better understand your child’s reasons for substance use, ways to improve communication and to reward healthy behaviors while discouraging substance use. Equally important are the tools around self-care to handle negative emotions like anger, shame, fear, guilt and depression, and to address feelings of isolation.
Beyond Addiction by Drs. Foote, Wilkens and Kosanke, is a book that helps explain the CRAFT approach in more detail with practical suggestions and exercises to help families implement these tools. The Parent’s 20-Minute Guide is a companion guide to the book geared toward families with teens who are using substances. It offers examples as well as opportunities to apply CRAFT skills given your own set of circumstances.