Getting Your Loved One Sober While Improving Your Own Quality Of Life

Simone Hoermann, Ph.D., is a Psychologist in private practice in New York City. She specializes in providing psychotherapy for Personality Disorders, Anxiety, and Depression ...Read More

In a recent blog, I’ve written about the common co-occurrance between personality disorders and substance use issues. If you have a loved one who is doing drugs or drinking, you’re probably very concerned and you know how hard this can be. Many family members and partners of people with substance issues are, understandably, extremely stressed about their situation and experience a lot anxiety, depression, and other problems such as low self-esteem. You probably also know how intensely mixed people can feel about stopping their use, and how resistant they can be to entering treatment and seeking help. You might already have tried anything in order to get them to stop – tough love, guilt, nagging, confronting, bribing, you name it.

There’s a fairly new intervention out there that is geared towards helping concerned others of substance users called CRAFT. This method was developed by Dr. Robert Myers and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico, and it has been found to be quite effective: In different studies, the number of substance users how entered treatment once their loved ones used CRAFT methods ranged from 64% to 86%, and family members reported a decrease in symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improvements in their own life satisfaction.

CRAFT stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training, and the basic idea is that the people in the environment surrounding a person with substance use issues can make a huge difference in terms of getting them to cut down or stop their use and enter treatment.


CRAFT has 3 goals:


 1.) To get a loved one into substance use treatment

2.) To get a loved one to reduce their substance use in the meantime

3.) To help the family member themselves improve their quality of life and feel better, even if the substance user does not enter treatment


  CRAFT is a very active and involved method, and it focuses on finding solutions to situations that feel stuck. That involves learning communication skills and doing role-plays, building a social network, reducing the potential for domestic violence, and analyzing problematic interactions and looking into ways of changing the outcome. CRAFT uses supportive and non-confrontational methods, and is based on principles that are derived from behavioral research.

Dr. Myers has co-authored a self-help book entitled “Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening”, in which you can find a lot of helpful information. You can also find more information in the excellent HBO documentary series “Addiction”, which contains a specific sections about CRAFT.

Another great resource for treatment is Allies in Recovery, a program in Northampton, Massachusetts, that uses the CRAFT method and is a great resource if you’re looking for substance use treatment facilities or CRAFT providers all over the country. Allies in Recovery also provides CRAFT over the phone for people who have no local resources available.

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