Help! My Loved One Won’t Stop Drinking!

If you’re reading this post then most likely you are a family member, partner, or friend of someone who’s drinking concerns you. You’ve most likely tried everything you can think of to help this person seek treatment:  nagging, pleading, threatening, leaving, staying, bargaining, contracting, and much more. Perhaps you’ve thought about signing up for the T.V. show “Intervention” on A&E, or staging your own intervention for your loved one. Maybe you have given up and no longer interact with your loved one; you have cut them out of your life completely. It may feel like you have used every tool at your disposal and yet, you are still fighting the same battle. Luckily, there is a new research-based approach to helping family members get their loved ones into treatment and to take back their lives from a loved one’s substance or alcohol use. This new approach is called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT, for short) and it is starting to gain traction in addiction treatment.

The version of CRAFT that is practiced today originated at the University of New Mexico by Robert Meyers, Ph.D. and colleagues. Research on CRAFT shows that about 70% of families who go through the training are able to successfully engage their loved in treatment over the next year.  CRAFT also helps family members improve their own lives, whether their loved one ends up seeking treatment or not.

What is CRAFT?

CRAFT is an approach that works with family members, partners, friends, or employers of people using drugs or alcohol (in CRAFT, the term Concerned Significant Others, or CSOs, is used) to do the following:

  1. Help the CSO learn non-confrontational ways of breaking the person’s pattern of substance use;
  2. Empower the CSO to live a life not centered on the person’s use of or consequences related to the person’s addiction.

You are not to blame, but you can do something to help

  1.  You ARE NOT responsible for your loved one’s use of substances. You may be involved in situations related to your loved one’s use (e.g., getting into arguments with your partner) or the consequences related to his/her use (e.g., picking them up from the bar), but you did NOT make your loved one use substances. Your loved one is responsible for his/her behavior, just as you are responsible for your behavior. You CANNOT make a person drink or use drugs.
  2. At the same time, as a loved one of someone who uses drugs or alcohol, you have access to a wealth of knowledge about this person’s patterns of substance use. Also, you are a source of potential rewards for the person using substances. Your time, love, and attention are valuable resources that can help shift your loved one’s relationship with substances and with you.

CRAFT is non-confrontational

Unlike the interventions conducted on A&E’s show “Intervention,” family members in CRAFT do NOT use a confrontation to persuade their loved one to enter treatment. Instead, family members learn to recognize their loved one’s patterns of use and their own unintentional participation in these patterns. Family members learn how to stop their participation in these patterns in ways that keep them safe, set appropriate boundaries, and are consistent with the type of partner/daughter/parent/employer/etc. they want to be. For example, a mother will learn to stop arguing about her son’s drinking and instead, calmly express her desire that they not talk about this issue while he is drinking and then leave the situation to pursue a more rewarding activity (e.g., calling a friend, taking a bath). Additionally, CRAFT empowers family members by helping them engage in self-care and pursue their personal values and goals. For more information about CRAFT, stay tuned to this blog.

Resources on CRAFT:

To find a local CRAFT therapist for you or a loved one call 503-610-3370 or go to

Here’s  great self help book which summarizes the approach called: Get your loved one sober:  Alternatives to nagging, pleading, and threatening.

Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA):

Website for Dr. Meyers with information about CRAFT:

Author: Portland Psychotherapy Team


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