The CRAFT Method For Surviving Loved One’s Addiction

A CRAFTY Method For Survival

“He’s missed his last three doses at the methadone clinic – two because he said he was broke and this morning because he couldn’t get his butt out of bed. We have such a busy day with the kids and I need his help. How can I help him get out of bed and help me?”

This post is geared more toward those who have a loved one who is struggling with an addiction.

I understand that it’s not an easy position to be in. In fact, I know it can be heart-wrenching.

You want to rescue them. Fix them. Or maybe you want to leave them, fed-all-the-way-up!

But rather than talk about them, let’s talk about you. Let’s talk about us.

Now, you might be thinking:

“I know I have some issues, but my biggest concern is my partner (loved one). How can I help them? I’m really concerned about their drinking/ drugging/way they treat me, etc.”

I get it. You wonder how you can help your loved one get help.  What can you do for THEM? And, what can you do for YOU, to keep from going insane with worry or anger?

I wish there was one magical answer I could give that would make you do a happy dance. Like, “Oh, wow, that’s what I need to do? Thanks. I’m on it!”

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

  • You can get yourself a good therapist to process with.
  • You can join a support group like Al-Anon, Nar-anon, or Codependents Anonymous.
  • You can begin educating yourself about addiction in general.  This might not cause your loved one to call up that treatment center you’ve told him 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 percent.

Yes, that statistic was shocking to me at first, but then I started thinking about some of my friends who used to party like a boss, but at some point, they just stopped.  Maybe they’d just had enough or found themselves suffering negative consequences that caused them to call it quits.  Or maybe they had an “aha” moment, realizing that late nights and hangovers weren’t all that fun anymore.

The Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT)

Now I’m going to 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 my 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/drug less.
  • It gives them 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!

It works so well because it focuses on the “why” of substance abuse and introduces motivation for change.

Now, I’m not going to get into the depth of the CRAFT Method here. I encourage you to take some time to check out the following resources associated with this:


Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change

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

The 20-Minute Guide

Really, check that 20-minute guide out and get the book.  Live out what they teach you. Yes, it’s going to take time and effort on your part, but the outcome is better than the emotional hell you’re living in now, right?  And even if your partner doesn’t reach out for help or gets worse, you’ll have learned a bunch of tools that will help you stay sane and maybe even feel some peace and joy!

Understanding addiction

I understand that you want to know how to help your loved one. That’s awesome.

Your mission to learn more about addiction can be valuable. 

I know your loved one is not a bad person, though their behavior 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. 

I can think of a time where I lied about how much money I made to someone I was dating, because the “payoff” was that I figured this person would think more highly of me. Their perceived approval of me reinforced my lie and it motivated me to continue on with lying, until my conscience caused me to stop such behavior.

I know a person who smokes pot because she feels less anxious when she does. That’s her motivator for doing it, as well as her reward.  I know another person who works out every day at the gym. It’s become a habit because she’s motivated to repeat that action because her payoff is feeling better about herself when she exercises.

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 behavior, 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.

Now I didn’t say you’ll “change” them. I said you’ll become an influencer, helping them feel more motivated to change, because it’s them that’s going to have to do the changing themselves; you’re not their savior.

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.  Please check the book out that I mentioned earlier, as that can help you further.

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change


“God, I’m trusting that You will continue to help me understand better this thing called addiction. I know it’s not of You and I know my partner’s been hijacked by it, so I’m calling on You to help them get out from under it.  Sound Your alarm and wake them up! I’m calling on the universe to cause a major shift in their life and help me to learn how to best support them in a loving and compassionate way. Lead me in what I should say and do moment by moment, day by day, even if that means taking some time apart.”

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