CRAFT: An alternative to addiction “intervention”

Tom Brown, Ph.D.

CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) is a non-confrontational approach to getting a loved one to enteraddiction treatment. It is an approach designed for the concerned other (spouse, family member, friend), who is seeking assistance in getting their loved one help.   CRAFT can also help the person you are concerned about reduce their substance use, even without their direct cooperation. CRAFT is successful in getting people into treatment by a three to one margin over traditional intervention strategies.

CRAFT is motivational rather than confrontational. Concerned Significant Others (CSO) learn how to motivate loved ones to change, by rewarding sober activities and discouraging activities that include drugs or alcohol. The motivational approach to getting a loved one into treatment leads to a lower percentage of relapse. When the reasons not to use outweigh the reasons to use, people are more likely to enter treatment. CRAFT training provides CSO’s with skills to help shift the balance in favor of not using and entering treatment.
CRAFT goals are to:
·        Increase the CSO’s happiness, independent of whether or not the IP (Identified Patient) enters treatment.
·        Decrease the IP’s substance use.
·        Get the IP into treatment
CRAFT uses Positive Communication to improve the probability of the IP entering treatment. CSO’s are encouraged, when talking to the loved one, to:
·        Be brief in describing concerns
·        Be positive and hopeful
·        Refer to specific behaviors (“I see” or “I hear.”)
·        Describe their own feelings (“How I feel when this happens is…”)
·        Offer an alternative for the future (“What I would like to happen is…”)
(A quick way to remember the above is “facts, feelings, future.”)
CRAFT is especially useful for the CSO who has seen previous attempts to get a loved one into treatment fail, who is tired of nagging, pleading, and threatening, and who feels worn out. In addition, CRAFT is an appealing approach to those who are turned off by harsh confrontational interventions.
CRAFT works within your values and beliefs. The process is based on the understanding that no one has better information about the behavior of the substance user than the Concerned Significant Other. CRAFT teaches you how to use the information in a motivational way to increase the chances of the substance user entering treatment.
CRAFT will help you learn:
  • New skills to cope with old problems
  • How to increase your loved one’s sobriety
  • How to keep yourself safe
  • How to improve the quality of your life
The CRAFT method will coach you, in a very practical way, to discuss costs and benefits of your loved one’s substance use. Research finds that it is best to acknowledge that the substance user drinks or takes drugs because it makes them feel good, provides an escape from problems, and/or allows them to be more social. What is often neglected by the substance user is the cost of drinking or taking drugs. This is where the opportunity for change exists.
CRAFT is scientific. CRAFT is non-confrontational. CRAFT is a way for CSO’s to improve the quality of their own lives, while decreasing the possibility of use by their loved one and increasing the possibility of a loved one entering treatment. Best of all, research shows that CRAFT works.
Tom Brown, Ph.D., is a senior psychologist at Practical Recovery, where he helps individuals overcome addiction and achieve a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life.