Have A Loved One Struggling With Addiction? How The CRAFT Method Can Help

“He’s missed his last three doses at the methadone clinic because he said he was broke. This morning I can’t get him out of bed. I need his help with the kids! What can I do?”

Plenty of loved ones of those struggling with addiction can relate to feeling frustrated not knowing what to do or how to help.

If you’ve got a loved one drinking or drugging too much, you might be quite concerned. You want to know how you can effectively help them, but not enable them.

If only there was one magical answer that would make you do a happy dance.

See, there are things you CAN do to help your loved one and there are things you CAN’T do.

You can get yourself some help via a support group or counselling. It can benefit you when you can process all your emotions with those who understand.

Another thing you can do is begin educating yourself about addiction in general. This might not cause your loved one to call up that treatment centre you’ve told them about ten times, but it will begin to help you see things in a new perspective.

Do you know that a majority of folks who abuse alcohol and drugs end up stopping their drug use on their own? In fact, some say around 87 per cent.

Yes, that statistic may be shocking at first, but think about some of your friends or acquaintances who used to party like a boss, but up and stopped. Maybe they’d just had enough and wanted to settle down. Or perhaps they found themselves suffering negative consequences that caused them to call it quits.

The Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT)

Let’s introduce you to a wonderful approach to addiction recovery and codependency. It’s called CRAFT for short, and it stands for “Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Therapy”.

The biggest reason CRAFT has many people’s attention is that it’s been shown to have EXCEPTIONAL success at getting addicted loved ones to reduce their drug use AND increases their motivation to actually reach out for help via treatment.

Did you get that?

It helps loved one’s drink/drugless.

It gives them the initiative to get treatment.

But that’s not all.

It brings the whole family into the picture, helping family members learn how to better communicate with the addicted person, foster positive change in their loved one, and practice better self-care. It’s based on kindness and compassion, rather than nagging and confrontation.

It’s a win-win approach for everyone!

CRAFT has proven to be effective. In fact, the founders reported that when loved ones of addicts attended several therapy sessions with a professional that used the CRAFT method, 2/3 of the treatment-resistant loved ones ended up agreeing to go to treatment.

Read that again:

2 out of 3 who did NOT want to attend treatment before ended up agreeing to go when their loved one went to several sessions utilizing the CRAFT strategy.
Also, the majority of loved ones reported being more emotionally stable, less anxious, and less depressed, whether their loved one went to treatment or not.

That’s pretty powerful!

Why does it work so well?

It focuses on the “why” of substance abuse and introduces motivation for change.

Understanding Addiction

No doubt you want to know how to help your loved one. That’s awesome.

Your mission to learn more about addiction can be valuable.

Your loved one is not a bad person, though their behaviour may be sketchy or downright awful at times. Drugs have a way of causing someone to act in ways that they wouldn’t normally act.

But understand that your loved one is drinking or taking drugs because they get something out of it. It’s somehow rewarding for them or there’s some sort of payoff.

Think of a time when you did something you didn’t really want to do because you got something good out of it.

How about a person who smokes pot because they feel less anxious when they do. That’s their motivator for doing it, as well as reward. Or maybe a person who works out every day at the gym. It’s become a habit because they are motivated to repeat that action because the payoff is feeling better about themself when they exercise.

Your loved one is on the same type of track. They are getting something out of repeatedly drinking or drugging, such as:

  • Feeling less anxiety
  • Not feeling emotional pain (temporarily numbing)
  • Not having to feel withdrawal symptoms
  • Feeling a part of a group
  • Feeling funnier, and thus, more liked
  • Being more productive
  • Feeling more relaxed

This is helpful for you to understand, because when you can learn the “whys” of your loved one’s addiction, you can relax a little more. You’re not freaking out as much over the behaviour, because you get it. You might not agree with it, but you’re putting yourself in their shoes for a moment, and this can help reduce YOUR anxiety. This understanding is a great step toward learning techniques where you can become a major influencer in their life in constructive ways.

Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily “change” them. However, you can become more of an influencer, helping them feel more motivated to change.

This also helps you take things less personal. When your husband comes home from the softball game pretty drunk (again), you’re less likely to feel angry and disappointed when you understand why he drinks to excess while playing ball with his buddies.

Maybe he’s insecure, anxious, and depressed, and alcohol is his liquid courage to play ball with a group of guys where he desperately wants to feel like he fits in. Sure, it’s not a great solution, and you don’t necessarily have to keep putting up with it, but to him, his payoff is “fun with the guys feeling like I fit”.

It’s not personal. He’s not “over-drinking” because of you. Understanding his underlying issues can help you begin to address those things, rather than screaming “I’m so sick and tired of you coming home drunk!”

Again, if your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, you don’t have to continue struggling. To learn more about how you can best show up as support and stay off the emotional roller coaster, check out the book:

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change

Also, check out this FREE online 20-minute guide for partners of loved ones with addiction:


As you continue to believe better for your loved one that is struggling for addiction, be sure that you’re taking care of you. Give the CRAFT method a try. Many people report positive results for themselves and their struggling loved ones.


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