When a family member, significant other, or loved one has a substance use or addiction problem, the road toward recovery can feel uncertain. Do any of the following statements sound familiar to you? "My wife is drinking all the time at home, and no matter what I do, the behavior doesn't change or get better." "Help! My kid stays out all night getting high, and I'm scared to death of what will happen. I don't know what to do and nothing we've tried has worked." "My husband is drinking himself to death. I need help! I've tried everything, and I'm running out of options." A common theme shared by many families is that, at some point, it feels as though every possible solution has been tried, but nothing seems to have a lasting, positive impact for both the person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and their family. The recovery process is different for everyone and there are few certainties along the way, which can only increase the fear, isolation, and anger people experience. While there is little about recovery from addiction that is written in stone, certain common scenarios revealed through clinical research conducted with thousands of families struggling with substance use and addiction can reveal opportunities for positive change. There can be different timelines toward addiction treatment and through recovery People around an individual struggling with addiction can have a greater level of awareness of the behaviors and consequences related to substance use issues than the person struggling with the addiction itself. That means individual family members might be at different places and have different timelines in their process of accepting there is a problem. If you have tried everything to help a person with a substance use issue choose a path toward treatment, but nothing has worked, it might be that you are ready for your loved one to enter treatment and embrace recovery, but that the person is not yet in the right place to embark on that journey. "Have to" vs. "want to" Most substance use treatment programs are designed for people who are ready to give up using substances. Let's focus on what that means: Most programs operate on the assumption that an individual with a substance use problem has already decided that being clean and sober are more attractive options than using alcohol or other drugs. In such a scenario, entering treatment is part of a process to achieve the goal of replacing substance using behavior patterns with non-using behaviors Is your loved one at a point where they consider treatment, sobriety, and recovery—and everything they bring with them—more attractive than using drugs and alcohol? If not, how can you influence their thinking and priorities in a positive way? As the loved one of a person with a substance use problem, your awareness of how addiction is having an effect on your family or group has likely led to frustrating situations where ultimatums have been communicated in an attempt to initiate or demand change. Many people who enter treatment do so as a result of what can be best described as coercion. In situations such as these, people start treatment because they have to, and not because they want to. When a person has to do something, they don't necessarily see a personal benefit to participation. If treatment has been, for example, issued by the court system as a legal requirement or it has been demanded as a step to avoid significant life changes such as divorce, the steps might be in the best interest of everyone, but they do not guarantee the individual with the substance use problem wants to embrace treatment and recovery. Timing and readiness can influence outcomes Going to treatment doesn't mean a person with a substance use problem isn't still in denial about how their drinking or drug use is preventing them—and those in their midst—from enjoying a more satisfying life. The lack of readiness that many people struggling with substance use feel about changing their lifestyle and behaviors is what often leads them to resist treatment altogether. If they do decide or agree to enter alcohol or drug treatment, it is common for many to drop out after just a few sessions, or for old patterns of behavior to quickly return even if they are able to complete a cycle of treatment. People demonstrating such patterns are frequently referred to as having a treatment-resistant stance. Why? It may be because they are agreeing to go, rather than realizing the benefits of a substance-free life can outweigh the continuing use of drugs or alcohol. Actively deciding to make a change through treatment, like we've established, is different than agreeing to go to treatment. The long-term success of the recovery process—for both the individual and their family—can hinge on starting treatment at the right time, for the right reasons. Aligning your family's needs and treatment timing It's common for family and loved ones to be at different points in their acceptance and understanding of a substance use problem, but that doesn't mean your family's only option is to continue to struggle. There are tools that can help you prioritize your personal needs as well as your family's needs, and take positive steps toward aligning them with a loved one struggling with a substance use issue. Historically there have been few options for those individuals seeking help for treatment-resistant loved ones suffering from substance use. Most treatment options either focus exclusively on helping family members prioritize their own care or pursue strategies to convince their loved one to go to treatment. There are a limited number of programs designed to teach family and friends how to prioritize their needs while at the same time employing positive techniques that encourage their loved ones struggling with substance use issues to embrace and prioritize treatment; those that have been developed are rarely studied over time and developed by clinicians. More than 10 years of research and testing went into the development of the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) model, a therapeutic approach designed to modify the family and support environment around people with substance use issues, helping those struggling with addiction problems prioritize treatment and sobriety. By focusing on behaviors and actions that support positive lifestyle choices, rather than on the negative aspects of drug and/or alcohol use, the program creates an alternative method of rewarding individuals for non-substance related decisions. Through the CRAFT model, families and loved ones learn to give those with substance use disorders encouragement and rewards for engaging in activities that are not connected to drugs or alcohol, while at the same time prioritizing their own emotional and physical needs. Unlike traditional models of intervention, which concentrate on the person with the substance use disorder, the CRAFT model trains family, friends, and concerned significant others to adapt their communication and interaction strategies. The CRAFT program is an effective evidence-based intervention and treatment model that was developed by Dr. Bob Meyers, who has been involved in more than 12 clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health. The CRAFT model has been evaluated through multiple randomized clinical trials, and has been found to be two to six times more effective at engaging resistant people than other models of behavior modification and intervention. Learn more about how CRAFT can work for you and your family.