CRAFT: An Alternative to Intervention
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT CRAFT
- 1. CRAFT's system of offering and withdrawing "rewards" such as your affection and attention is just another way of enabling someone who is using substances. And enabling is bad.
Receiving affection and compliments for non-using behavior makes that behavior more enjoyable for your loved one. So, being nice when your loved one is engaged in sober activities makes it more likely that she or he continues those behaviors. One might say that you are "enabling" healthy behavior. Furthermore, CRAFT specifically teaches you how to withdraw rewards when the person is using - and this is the opposite of the traditional concept of enabling.
- 2. No one enters treatment until they "hit bottom" so using CRAFT while your loved one is still functioning is a waste of time.
People enter treatment when the reasons not to use outweigh the reasons to use. And as research has clearly shown, family members can help shift the balance so that the user develops enough reasons to stop. You can increase your loved one's reasons to not use by making sober time more enjoyable than using time. When she or he is not using, enjoy good times together. When she or he does use, withdraw yourself from the situation. The more pleasure your loved one experiences while sober, the less attractive getting drunk or high will be. So it is never too early to use the CRAFT alternative to nagging and threatening.
- 3. Most substance users overdo it all the time so it is impossible to do anything to lessen the severity of their use.
To the contrary, CRAFT teaches you how to map out your loved one's patterns to figure out the best ways to alter them. You learn two critical skills that allow you to do this. One is to identify the early triggers and signs of a drinking or drugging episode. The other is to determine which consequences you can influence or orchestrate yourself to begin to manage those episodes.
- 4. If you love someone, it is cruel to allow him or her to sleep in vomit or endure public humiliation when you have the power to fix those things.
Substance use creates messes. It causes missed work, embarrassing public behavior, vomit, wrecked relationships and worse. When it is your own loved one who gets into these messes, it is very difficult to just stand by and let him or her suffer. However, fixing the messes and protecting your loved one from his or her poor choices only makes it okay for those choices to be repeated. This may indeed be the most difficult lesson of CRAFT. With the exception of allowing truly dangerous behavior, let your loved deal with his or her own messes. These are called natural consequences and are powerful motivators to rethink one's behavior choices.
- 5. Once your loved one agrees to stop using or enter treatment, your job is done.
Between agreeing to enter treatment and making an appointment, a thousand things will change a substance user's mind. Your job, as a successful CRAFT practicer, is to select a therapist and be sure that he or she is ready to see your loved one within a day or two. From there, your support of treatment is invaluable. It can make the difference between your loved one dropping out of treatment or joining you in a happier, healthier life.