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Using Home as a Reward

couple talk on couch showing brochure
“I feel a little confused. As I learn more from the site I understand influencing him toward treatment is a process that takes time. From your response to my first question, I feel we should jump right to the planned conversation with a shelter as leverage, is that correct? If he is in a shelter, how do we modify this therapy to continue influencing him? Thanks for this site, especially the ability to ask questions.” — recent comment from AiR member All4All

My understanding of your situation is limited, so I may not be capturing all of what is going on. In answering questions, I hope to show how I would put each situation, ideally, into the CRAFT model.

What stood out to me about your case is that your son doesn’t normally live with you. He is sleeping on the couch and actively using heroin. The question is whether to give him time to formulate a plan or simply ask him to leave. Your son has only recently relapsed. So it’s important to move quickly before the drug use completely overwhelms him, and sober life is a distant memory.

In terms of CRAFT, I was treating your home as a reward to your son, granted in support of non-use or very limited use because he is making a real effort to address his substance problem (read my response to the first question here).

Letting them say at home: a tricky but PIVOTAL issue

Your home is not a place to come to and continue to use. Housing is so often a huge issue that is tricky to sort out. At which point is housing a support for non-use and when is it a free, cushy place used as a base that also subsidizes the cost of drugs?

In your situation, he doesn’t live with you normally, so if you provide housing and he continues to use, you’re rewarding that use.

How CRAFT fits in to the “Under my roof” debate

The CRAFT principles are to a) reward non-use (rewards range from hugs and pizza to housing and college) and 2) disengage, remove rewards, and allow natural consequences to occur when there is use (allowing natural consequences can range from letting him oversleep to not bailing him out when arrested).

The research studies on CRAFT with families lasted 12 weeks. The groups we created at AiR lasted 8 weeks. 50% the families who succeeded in getting their Loved One to enter treatment did so in the first half of these trainings. So, a great number of families, many of whom found it challenging to apply CRAFT, still found success quickly: in 4 to 6 weeks.

The goal of the Video Modules is to teach you, the family, quickly and thoroughly, the stance you can take and how to react to Loved Ones so that you are an ally in recovery.

It’s easy for me to sit back and apply ideal CRAFT to a situation. I understand it’s a lot. Families need to weigh suggestions against what they are emotionally prepared to do.

I agree that a plan needs formulating. I also think you should help your son come up with the plan since finding treatment is complicated. You should determine what you are willing to provide as additional supports, including temporary support with housing.

They must be allowed to experience the Natural Consequences of their use

Yes, the natural consequence of his continuing to use is ending up in a shelter, when you’re homeless, which your son is. (I’ve never seen anyone actually go to a shelter in 13 years of doing this work. People find other couches to flop on. Shelter is still a good deal better than overdose or jail.)

A shelter doesn’t mean he can’t have lunch with you or that you can’t talk to him every day. You want to stay in touch. You want to apply CRAFT by being neutral, loving, and ready to provide him all the supports when he’s ready to address the drugs.

I hope this helps.



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"...)