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Getting My Parents On Board with CRAFT


worriedinwa has been in touch for months about the situation with her addicted brother and her struggle to help their parents understand how they are inadvertently enabling his use. She has sent in some news:


Just wanted to give you an update. I spoke with my father. I ended up focusing more on not giving him money or helping him sell things. I emphasized that my brother had two parts right now — one that wants to get clean and one that is in the throes of the addiction — and that money could go to either part. I suggested some other forms of support he might offer and how he might make them conditional on my brother seeking treatment. I even suggested some language. He said he had offered that kind of support to my brother already but admitted he had never made it conditional on my brother seeking treatment. When I suggested it probably needed to be conditional, he agreed while saying it is hard to stop helping him and that he (my dad) may not be ready yet to make this change. I felt he heard me, and we will see if he starts to change.

In the meantime, my brother appears to have gotten off with the court by pleading guilty, having his license suspended, and presumably paying some sort of fine. I am frustrated that the court did not mandate some sort of treatment. But I think for a first-time DUI in WA state the judge may not have that authority.

I have shared information about CRAFT with my mom and dad. My mom has even done a one-day training and has tried to apply some of the ideas. My dad remains resistant to learning more about it.

On another note, my brother texted me asking that I help him get something out of pawn so that he could sell it. I gave it a little thought then wrote back saying I could not because the problems that caused him to pawn it instead of selling it at a fair price had not disappeared. Once he dealt with those by seeking treatment, I would be ready to talk about financial help. This is only the second time he's asked me for money, and having to formulate a response and deal with those emotions myself did give me some empathy for my parents.

Thank you"

Family members empathize with the desperation of Loved Ones as they struggle to get on in life. In the moment when the Loved One makes a request, it is hard to disentangle whether to provide help or not. Does the help soften a consequence that results from their substance use? Or does the help provide them support for the practicalities of life, a life that teeters on the brink of crashing. In your case, does your help with the pawning and selling of items provide your brother relief from the consequences of his use? Does it provide money for buying drugs? Or does it help him to buy food or pay rent?

Could your family have a conversation that helps clarify when your brother is angling for money to use? Can your parents be helped to see this more clearly.

You did well by talking to your father about linking and leveraging his support for your brother to get treatment. That is a key piece of what the family can do.

What treatment can your brother access should he be willing to seek help? Can you give your parents a written list with details of each treatment? You will need to get on the phone and learn the details of how your brother would go about accessing each of the treatments.

Your mom went to a family training. Can you ask her and your father to view Learning Module 6 on what to do when a Loved One uses? You can show it to them on a phone. It is under 10 minutes long.

It boils down to three things:

  • Disengage yourself
  • Remove rewards
  • Allow natural consequences to occur

Keep the conversation with your parents going. Set aside times to talk. The family plays a role. It’s tiring and not fair. And it is work. Families are influential. Little by little continue to help tune thing up with your parents. Thank you for being willing to help your brother. You are dealing with difficult dynamics. You need to work with/through your parents to influence your brother to get treatment. It's not easy but the right course.



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. This topic is a real life example of what families often live with. Hearing how the process works is helpful for me as I grapple with our daughter’s alcoholism. I expect to get a call from her soon asking for money again. I feel better about saying “no” now and my reasons for doing so. I just finished my first time through the modules and now will move on to finding the resources for treatment. That seems like a huge task and I will search for the topic here. Thanks for sharing the conversation.

    1. Thanks so much for writing in, gptraveler. Congratulations on making your first round through the 8 Learning Modules. It’s a lot of information and this is of course a process. Many families find it makes sense for them to watch the Modules several times through. Depending on where we are in the process, we pick up on different things. As for resources for treatment, you can certainly look at the “Treatment” topic on this blog, but don’t forget that there’s a whole section of our site dedicated to becoming educated on Treatment: you can start here under “NEWS & RESOURCES” —> “Our Treatment Resources” Wishing you strength in this journey.