Having a loved one struggle with substance abuse can be one of the hardest things a person has to face in life. Seeing someone you love in pain because of substance use is a terrible feeling, especially when it seems there is nothing you can do about it.

Although you will never be able to make decisions for your loved one, you can always find ways to support and encourage sobriety and a healthier lifestyle. Since the conception of Alcoholics Anonymous there has been a cultural shift in how many people view addictions. Where substance abuse was before hidden in shadows, it is now a more open topic of conversation as treatment is encouraged.

As this societal change has slowly gained more and more ground, increased methods and theories of treatment have gained popularity, all of them unique in their principles and implementation. One such model is called the CRAFT Intervention Model.

What is CRAFT?

The Community Reinforcement and Family Training Intervention Model, commonly abbreviated as CRAFT, was developed out of the University of New Mexico by Dr. Robert Meyers and Dr. Jane Smith. Their belief was that if a person’s family could change its own behavior through adoption of positive reinforcement, that a person dealing with addiction would eventually desire to seek treatment.

How is CRAFT different from other models of treatment?

CRAFT itself is not direct treatment. CRAFT is an intervention model designed for families and friends to implement to encourage formal treatment. A family cannot implement professional treatment, but it can encourage treatment on a daily basis.

When CRAFT was founded by Meyers and Smith, the goal was to have families approach the person abusing drugs or alcohol in a non-confrontation and united manner. It differs from two other well-known models in this way, namely the Johnson method and Alcoholics Anonymous. 

While The Johnson Method stresses the influence of family on an individual’s decision to seek sobriety, it advocates for a direct conversation in which the family points out consequences of addiction and potential outcomes if the usage continues. Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous employ an approach that is more individualized, having members support each other rather than promoting family involvement. Alcoholics Anonymous also draws on spiritual practices as one comes to know a higher power as part of a 12-Step process.

While all three models have proven to be effective, CRAFT attempts to utilize the best of both The Johnson Method and Alcoholics Anonymous, incorporating a system of family support while endorsing positive reinforcement and treatment through relationships.

What does CRAFT look like?

There is some terminology unique to the CRAFT model. The person dealing with addiction is referred to as the “Identified Patient,” or IP, and the family and friends are labeled “Considered Significant Others,” or CSOs. CRAFT operates to achieve the three following goals:

  1. Improve the lives of the Concerned Significant Others
  2. Reduce the harmful behaviors of the Identified Patient
  3. Encourage the Identified Patient to seek treatment

According to Mental Help, The CRAFT model relies on family members and friends to adapt their behavior to motivate change in the person struggling with addiction. In order for a family to accomplish progress towards their loved one’s sobriety, CRAFT urges the family to:

  1. Ignore drug and alcohol usage and related behaviors 
  2. Positively reinforce healthy behaviors
  3. Not enable negative behaviors

Again, the terminology “positive reinforcement” simply means that the family rewards decisions oriented towards sobriety. The term “enabling” refers to the removal of natural consequences that would decrease drug and alcohol usage. For example, a sibling may be inclined to lend money to her brother because his rent is due, and he spent his last paycheck on alcohol. The CRAFT model would discourage this, so the brother can experience the natural consequence of overdue rent, hopefully discouraging the future purchase of alcohol when other expenses are pending.

In addition to the three steps of ignoring, rewarding and not enabling, CRAFT also teaches family and friends specific skills that foster an environment supportive of treatment. These skills include identifying and decreasing the presence of triggers to usage, developing better communication and being prepared with treatment options once the person independently expresses interest.

What are the benefits of using CRAFT?

The greatest benefit of the CRAFT approach is the high rate of success. According to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, in a study conducted to measure the success of three treatment styles, the CRAFT model was able to engage 64% of previously unmotivated problem drinkers in treatment, whereas Alcoholics Anonymous engaged 13% and The Johnson Method engaged 30%.

Employing CRAFT as a family can change the life of the person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. According to The Center for Motivation and Change, the CRAFT model of family intervention is proven to benefit families by increasing skills to navigate adverse experiences, even if the target of the model does not seek treatment or has already begun.

To seek help with addiction and mental health issues for yourself or a loved one, get in touch with Pyramid Walden today. Call (301) 997-1300, to reach mental health and addiction specialists who can support you on your journey toward a sober, healthy and happy family.