Working with Family Members of Substance Abusers: The CRAFT Approach

In this rare opportunity to learn from the founder of CRAFT himself, participants will learn how to implement Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT): a highly-effective, evidence-based approach for helping family members living with a loved one (i.e. partner, son/daughter, parent, sibling) who is using alcohol or drugs problematically but who refuses to enter treatment. CRAFT provides families with practical and highly effective strategies to move their loved one toward treatment, while simultaneously improving their own lives. Studies show that CRAFT-trained family members are consistently able to engage their substance-misusing loved one into treatment in nearly seven out of ten cases. Even when the loved one does not enter treatment, he/she often substantially reduces their addictive behavior. And regardless of whether or not the loved one enters treatment, the family member typically feels less depressed, anxious, angry, and has fewer physical symptoms than before CRAFT.

CRAFT involves teaching family members (concerned significant others – CSOs) how to change their own behaviour at home toward the substance using family member in a carefully orchestrated manner. More specifically, CSOs learn to rearrange contingencies in the substance misuser’s environment so that a non-substance abusing lifestyle becomes more rewarding than one focused on using alcohol or other drugs, and so that engagement in treatment is more likely.

CRAFT has attained an impressive level of empirical support. The first randomized clinical trial was published in 1986. Additional trials by independent investigators have led to the general conclusion that CRAFT is substantially more effective than intervention or Al-Anon or the Johnson Institute Intervention model in motivating substance users to enter treatment. Simply stated, CRAFT has the strongest evidence base for methods intended to initiate change in another person. It is certified as an Evidenced Based Treatment by SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs Practices (NREPP).