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    Tools to Address Your Child's Substance Use

    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.


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    How do you help a child struggling with substance use?

    Listen to families discuss how the skills they learned through Community Reinforcement and Family Training helped them turn the page with their child’s substance use.

    What is Community Reinforcement and Family Training?

    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.

    How can it help me and my child move forward?

    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.

    Active listening is a communication skill to help you shift the tone away from anger or lecturing, and engage your child in a productive conversation.
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    If your child is struggling with substance use, it's likely they see drugs as a solution, not a problem. Learn how to address those underlying issues.
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    Self-care is essential to managing the stress, anxiety and other negative emotions that come with helping a loved one through addiction and substance use.
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    Allowing your child to experience the consequences of their behavior can be a powerful influence on their future actions.
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    Providing some kind of reward to increase the chances that a healthy behavior will be repeated is central to helping change your child's substance use.
    Learn more

    Last Updated

    September 2023