Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

CRAFT, Meth & Violence: Our Position

Fist domestic violence

4Rhelp's Loved One is using methamphetamine and having occasional violent outbursts; she wrote in and asked:

“In the introduction, module 1, you say ‘if your loved one is physically violent, this program is not for you.’ Why? What are all of us with Loved Ones who use meth and have meth aggression and violence supposed to do? Why, if there is physical abuse or violence, is CRAFT not effective?”

Our member describes the Loved One’s very troubled family history of abuse, opiate use as a teenager, and now meth use for approximately two years. 4Rhelp writes that she doesn’t believe in “higher power” or “tough love” approaches and had hoped that the CRAFT approach and the Allies site would be “just the ticket.”


© fist via shutterstock


Here at Allies, we are greatly concerned with our members’ safety in all situations where violence is a possibility

Substance use tends to disinhibit Loved Ones which can create an opportunity for aggression and violence.  We urge everyone to carefully watch/read over our Safety Module (Module 2). Learn its techniques and put a safety plan in place.

That said, methamphetamine use presents some unique challenges. Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant and social scientists and health care workers have observed a greater potential for aggression and violence among Loved Ones using meth. This potential for violence creates an added risk for members using CRAFT tenets with their Loved Ones who are using methamphetamine.

CRAFT was developed to work with those whose Loved Ones are misusing opiates or alcohol

Both opiates and alcohol are depressants, though alcohol users in particular can have an aggressive phase (the initial disinhibition, or “buzz” phase, which looks like stimulant use). Changing the dynamic and pattern with a drinker can be risky: when they seek family engagement during a drinking spree and are refused, they may become angry and aggressive. That being said, alcohol users' reactions eventually slow down, and a feeling of heaviness takes over, or even unconsciousness.

It is imperative that anyone on this site who is practicing CRAFT with a Loved One carefully review our Safety Module (Module 2). We emphasize in Modules 1 & 2 that we are not equipped to deal with domestic violence situations. We urge our members to seek out domestic violence support from resources specifically designed to help with such situations, including when methamphetamines are involved.

Methamphetamine, aka "Meth," poses some unique issues

Unlike alcohol or opiate use, impulsivity and aggression can increase as dosages increase, particularly when users dose up to try to avoid the “crash” that typically results from a using spree.  Until we have better research and experience with using CRAFT with methamphetamine users, we recommend that our members discontinue using CRAFT while a Loved One is actively using methamphetamine and consider disengaging as much as possible from Loved Ones while they are using.

This self-help website is simply not equipped to deal with domestic violence

We want all CRAFT users on this site to have a safety plan in place, and we ask that you remove yourself entirely if violence occurs or is threatened. (See our Safety Module.) Whether they're using opiates, alcohol, meth or another substance, remember that it doesn't do the Loved One any good if he or she perpetrates a violent act while using/intoxicated, so leaving the scene before violence occurs is a way of protecting your Loved One as well as yourself.

If you have experienced domestic violence, there is help available.  We ask that you be in touch with professionals and agencies that can help you with that (some links provided below). And always, always have a safety plan in place.

Non-exhaustive List of Resources for Domestic Violence:

Here is a website from the state of Massachusetts with some resources (

Here are a couple other good websites you may want to consider:



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Verbal abuse often comes along with a Loved One’s substance use disorder (SUD). Although it is not physical violence, it can leave emotional scars and be deeply painful, demeaning, and difficult to cope with.

      If there is physical abuse, we urge you to not try and start implementing CRAFT. Safety takes precedence and is of the utmost importance. Domestic violence should be addressed before starting anything new. To read more about how to keep yourself safe when there is physical violence please click here.

      I would strongly suggest heading right over to Modules 5, 6 and 7 to start building up a defense to curtail the negative impacts this type of abuse can, and probably already is, having on you. Learning how to set strong emotional boundaries and then manage the distressing feelings that are triggered when you find yourself in the midst of a verbal attack will benefit you and your Loved One both.

      Bring on the boundaries

      As soon as you start to feel some kind of emotional/physical reaction to what your LO is saying, that’s an indication that it is time to set a boundary. Press the PAUSE button. Step away. Use your communication skills and get space. What you say to your LO might sound like this:

      “I’m finding myself upset right now, and I am going to have to get some space from this conversation. I’d only be useless at the moment, but I will come back once I have calmed myself down.”

      And then exit. This does three things:

      1. You’re using “I” (feeling) statements to express your emotions and not placing blame on your LO for your distress. You’re taking responsibility for keeping your emotions safe from the badgering.

      2. You’re modeling how adults handle difficult feelings. They don’t engage and they don’t just let the verbal assault continue.

      3. You’re letting your LO know that what they have to say does matter, that you’re not just abandoning the conversation.

      I know, I know: your LO will probably not be all that happy when you don’t continue to engage. Heck, they are not used to the new you. People fall into particular roles and behaviors, and when the one person changes things, the other has to respond differently and may not be comfortable with that. How dare you!

      We’re not talking 24-hour fixes

      The point is: be prepared for the behavior of your LO to get worse before it gets better. You may have to leave the house, go for a drive or a walk. But the more you hold to this boundary by calmly and patiently refusing to engage when your LO is verbally out of control, the easier it will become. I have found that right around three times of sticking to it is when I start to see progress.

      Also be prepared for some backsliding over time. When that happens, try to go right back into healthy-emotional-boundary mode.

      Don’t forget to care for yourself

      The next thought is how to self-comfort and cope with your feelings when you do walk away from the verbal assault. This is where Module 7 comes into play. Module 7 teaches that when we are in the middle of crisis and chaos with intense thoughts and emotions, the first step to healing is to let them come in. Try not to push everything down, just let it be. There is a reason that we have difficult feelings even if the picture isn’t clear in the moment. The state of chaos is only temporary; you can’t stay in a whirlwind in your mind and body forever.

      Once things start to settle, that’s the time to consider alternative thoughts and ideas. These are not necessarily “fluffy lovely” thoughts. They are more realistic thoughts. The more you introduce such thoughts, the more you lessen the intense, destructive feelings that drive us to react. As you calm your thoughts, your emotions are easier to manage as well. This will give you time to think through how to respond instead of reacting to your LO.

      Allies is here to support you in many ways. You are not alone.

    1. Absolutely. The issue is the increased risk of violence with meth. You will always want to keep the potential of violence in the back of your mind. Thank you for helping us clarify this point.