How the CRAFT Approach Could Aid in Recovery

When most people think of addiction recovery, they commonly think of the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), et al. Historically, people have had the greatest success in achieving long term recovery through the 12-Step modality; millions of people have learned how to live a fulfilling and productive life, free from drugs and alcohol through the principles of “step” programs.

Naturally, one size does not fit all and in recent years a number of people suffering from a substance use disorder have turned to what’s known as SMART Recovery and have achieved success. The program is secular and scientifically based, incorporating non-confrontational motivational, behavioral and cognitive methods. While some people who take the SMART Recovery approach also use the 12-Steps, the approach was designed and can be used as a stand-alone recovery program. SMART Recovery encourages participants to find their own way to recovery.

The program relies on several principles and techniques of motivational interviewing, including:

  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

When it comes to the friends and families of those with a substance use disorder in need of recovery, many will turn to programs like Al-Anon for support and guidance with regard to getting their loved one the help they need. It is widely believed that a substance abuser who is not ready to seek help must continue on the path of destruction until they experience a tragedy. Such events, commonly referred to as “hitting rock bottom,” are often times the catalysts necessary for one to come to terms with the fact that they are suffering from addiction and need help – breaking the streak of denial. Many hold, including those in involved with AA and Al-Anon, that without hitting rock bottom a successful recovery is unlikely.

Unfortunately, while the “tough love” approach of allowing a love one to hit rock bottom and not helping them until they ask for help is not without merit, sometimes hitting rock bottom means death – especially when drugs are involved. On the other side of the spectrum, the SMART Recovery approach to intervening with a loved one’s addiction involves what is known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT).

The CRAFT approach to helping people who do not believe they need help has gained support from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and appears to be effective, The Boston Globe reports. The method involves the use of:

  • Conversational Techniques
  • Helpful Questions
  • Techniques for responding to a substance abuser’s behavior.

The idea is that family members can motivate their loved ones to seek help by making them feel listened to, empowered, and supported. CRAFT advocates, according to the article, argue that the ‘ideas of “in denial” and “hitting bottom” have no basis in empirical science, and no place in health care policy.’

“I hope in the next 10 years, we take ‘hitting bottom’ out of the lexicon,” said Dr. Carrie Wilkens, coauthor, along with psychologist Jeff Foote, of “Beyond Addiction.” “I want to eradicate it. It doesn’t need to happen, ever.”

At Family Recovery Specialists, we use non-confrontational, invitational approach to intervention, which has been proven effective and allows for a family to lovingly and compassionately encourage a loved one to seek help for a substance addiction, mental health disorder or process addiction. If you or a loved one battles with addiction, please contact FRS to begin the journey of recovery.

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