The CRAFT

by The Discovering Alcoholic on April 6, 2007

”In almost all cases, family members report significant reductions in depression and anxiety.”

I couldn't resist using the movie poster, but the CRAFT I am talking about has nothing to do with witchcraft or the movie. In fact I should be using the intro for HBO, because this is a review of another one of their supplemental series on addiction called Getting an Addict into Treatment: The CRAFT Approach. CRAFT stands for community reinforcement and family training. It was developed by Dr. Robert Meyers, a professor in psychology, after he grew up watching his father's alcoholism eventually kill his mother at forty-five. I had never heard of the CRAFT approach and was at first skeptical of its value, but after watching the episode I had a change of heart.

I have linked to the show through it's title above, so please watch it yourself and then click "Read More" to see my review…

It has been my observation and personal experience that the family and friends of an alcoholic/addict are subjected to just as much if not more stress and discomfort as those with the addiction. Staying up late wondering if they are alive, wondering if they can stay in school or keep a job, throwing away good money after bad in hope things will change; these situations commonly occur. All too often, abuse, theft, and depression are issues that also have to be dealt with by the family and loved ones of an addict/alcoholic.

That is why I changed my opinion about this treatment program that teaches family and friends how to deal with their loved one’s addiction in a positive manner. There are plenty of treatment programs out there for addiction, but I know of little more than support groups for family and friends. CRAFT offers training on how to use positive reinforcement not only to get a person into treatment, but to reduce the stress and conflict levels of those that are trying to arrange for this treatment. Conflict and confrontation are frowned upon, since we all probably can agree that these types of approaches rarely work and only tend to make the situation more painful for all involved. Instead a system of rewards for positive behavior is used, and conflict is avoided until constructive dialogue can take place. They say in the 25 treatment centers that utilize the CRAFT approach, that 70% of those targeted enter treatment for their addiction.

It was the lady who was dealing with the alcoholic grandson in the episode that really changed my mind about CRAFT. I could tell by the way that she emulated his behavior in the training with the therapist, that she new all too well his pain and frustration and this just amplified her own. Her life became better when she was taught how to change the confrontations about his behavior from negative to positive. Regardless if she had ever got him into treatment, which she did, her life would have become better for what she had learned.

I like that.

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