How do I get my loved one (spouse, family member, friend) to stop using drugs or alcohol?

Maybe you’re tired of making the sobriety pitch. Maybe you’re tired of nagging. 

It can be really difficult to live with a spouse or family member who is caught in a cycle of alcohol or drug addiction. When you don’t know what else to do, it’s easy to become angry and frustrated. Although we know it’s not helpful to pester threaten, or nag, it’s hard to know what else to do to get your loved one free from their addiction.

Chances are that you’ve had arguments and maybe even threatened to leave in your attempts to get your loved one to stop using. While it seems like confrontation should work, a research task force of the American Psychological Association found that confrontational approaches don’t work in getting people to stop their addictions. Similarly, the confrontational approach of giving your partner flack, nagging, or threatening him/her are not likely to work for you. Research has shown that there are better, more effective ways to engage your substance using loved one and motivate them to want to seek treatment. These skills have been collected in a program called CRAFT and are available for you to learn.

The method that's been proven to work

In multiple well-designed scientific studies, CRAFT has helped family members of people with addiction to: 1) improve the quality of their lives, and 2) make sobriety more attractive  than drinking or drug using for their loved one. CRAFT has many positive and helpful skills to achieve these two goals. CRAFT skills do not rely on threats, confrontation, or giving up on your loved one with an addiction; they are specific, easy-to-learn skills that you can use to improve your life and free your loved one from his/her addiction.

How to learn the skills you need

If you want to learn about CRAFT, there are several great resources out there. Check out our resources page for a description of books, workbooks, and videos available. These can teach you the basic skills; however, you may need or want additional support in learning and practicing CRAFT skills. You can look for providers or groups (online or local) in your area that support CRAFT. One example of an online group that is supportive of CRAFT skills is SMART Recovery’s online family support group. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to read about CRAFT at your own pace, peruse informational materials on our website, and get involved in the community. Because you’re signed up for this newsletter, each week for the next ten weeks you’ll receive an email that addresses one question that is common to people who are dealing with addicted loved ones.

There is something you can do

We’re here to help. There are millions of family members out there in your position. You are not alone in this struggle. It’s not your fault that your loved one is using drugs or alcohol, but there is something you can do. If you learn CRAFT you’ll have the tools you need to make a difference.

If your spouse is physically or sexually abusive we do not recommend using CRAFT. Your safety is the first priority. If you are in a violent relationship or fear for your safety, please check out this list of resources that you can use to keep yourself safe.

It's worth the effort.

Change is difficult. But change for the better is worth it. If you’re feeling hopeless and stuck in your relationship with someone who is drinking or using drugs, we’re here to suggest a new option. It takes time, it takes effort, but finding a way to make your life better and to make treatment more attractive for your loved one is worth it.

Keep your eye out for the first installment of our ten-week free, email course on how to help an addicted loved one. (if you've gotten here from somewhere else, you can sign up here)