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We have decided to gather on this page comments from our members that reflect steps forward, successes large and small, victories that you have shared with us. When you are feeling low and discouraged, perhaps you will find strength and encouragement in the experiences of other members who have used to CRAFT successfully with their Loved Ones. If they can, you can!



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. I believe CRAFT helped my 19 yo daughter to get into treatment in November, and i believe it helped her to return after relapse.

    After discharge from rehab on Mar 5, she offered to reactivate Find My Friends so I could check on her whereabouts (if we hadn’t spoken in a while). Mid-morning on Mar 16, after observing several days of “relapse behavior,” I noticed that she was in the vicinity of her drug dealer. Instead of accusing her of using, I invited her (via text) to lunch with me and her brother. She declined. I then (calmly) expressed concern about her wellbeing because of her location. She said she understood, it’s not what it looks like, she and (new) boyfriend were walking around all night, etc. I didn’t take the bait; I didn’t ask why she was lying to me. (As Dominique would say, I stayed out of the weeds.) Instead, I asked if she was okay, invited her (again) to lunch, then left it alone. Despite the fear in my chest, I took my son to lunch as promised.

    Around 5 pm, she arrived at the house with her boyfriend (who recently discharged from same rehab facility). I reminded her of our agreement — that if I ever had concerns about her using, I could ask for UA. She said she remembered, agreed to let me test her, just not at that moment…she had things to do. I listened. Then her boyfriend suggested she take care of it now so they could go out as planned. He was unaware that she had used the night before. She glanced over at him, then nervously followed through with the UA. Afterwards, they went together to her space in the detached garage. From a distance, I heard her say to him, “I was going to tell you.” (She probably expressed frustration at him for coaxing her to test, then confided about her use.)

    The test was positive for meth, amphetamine, MDMA, morphine/opiod, and THC. I texted her. I acknowledged the positive drug test and asked her what she wanted to do. I reminded her of the safety plan — if she slips/relapses, she is to call her sponsor, alert aftercare providers, attend a meeting, etc. I reminded her that if my home was not providing enough structure for recovery, she needed to consider other living arrangements. I told her I loved her, that I was here for her, that I was available to help. I added: “I love you. No matter what. Please know that.”

    She didn’t reply. After about an hour, her boyfriend left. She texted to say he broke up with her, and said “I don’t care what you decide. Kick me out. I don’t care.” I told her I was sorry. I reminded her that it wasn’t my decision — it was hers. I calmly asked again, “What do you want?”

    The sun started to go down. I was beginning to worry about her compulsion to use heroin to numb big feelings.

    Before going to get pizza for her brother, I texted her again. Asked if she wanted “help to get back on track.” No reply. Significant time passed. The lights were out in the garage. I texted again. No reply. As I started to walk towards the garage with Narcan in hand, she replied: “I’m okay. I am taking nap, will come in soon.” When she came in, she was on the phone with intake, making arrangements to return to treatment.

    On our way to treatment the next day, she told me she was laying on her bed with a syringe of meth/heroin but decided not to use. She called intake instead because she was afraid to lose her recovery friends. (This is the story intake shared with me as well.)

    A few days later, her boyfriend told me he did not give her an ultimatum (“return to treatment or else”). He told me it wasn’t about the relapse (“relapse happens with addiction”) rather that she had lied to him about her use. He said he needed to be able to trust his partner. I believe his approach was also helpful to her. It was not shaming. He did not lash out with anger. Instead he focused on his needs (to be in an open/trusting relationship) and gave her space to decide what she wanted to do

    Anyway, she’s back in treatment. And I believe CRAFT is a big reason why.

    I’m still not prepared to be on this journey for years to come (really struggling with that) but big and small victories along the way may help me to realize I can do this with CRAFT — and support from other people who have walked the journey too.

    1. Fireweed3, thank you so much for sharing this. This is a victory that is encouraging for all of us.

      What a waiting game you endured before hearing from her that she was ok. Narcan in hand, you were prepared for the worst. In her own space, your daughter was grappling with an excruciating choice. But she found clarity and decided to go back into treatment. This is inspiring.

      The long road ahead – maybe no one is fully prepared for it, whatever it brings. But you have facilitated something that makes all the difference for today – for where you are on the path right now. And you have support here to keep walking this path, and tending to yourself along the way. With this support, you’re right. You can do it. We celebrate the steps with you, both big and small.

      Sending you love and gratitude.

  2. I came to find CRAFT and Allies in Recovery late last year. My son has been struggling with an opiate addiction ever since he suffered a badly sprained ankle playing basketball in high school. We were oblivious for years. It came to my attention 3 years ago and I have dropped everything to help him and fortunately have been blessed with the resources to do this. CRAFT wasn’t one of them until late last year though my research was trending in that direction.

    I noticed that the things I did before that resemble things I see CRAFT espouses, now, were the ones that seemed to create a connection with my son and make things seem tenable, simpler and easier. I’m learning, increasingly, the necessities and the unnecessary so that I may eliminate the unnecessary. I have learned to listen for signals and to eliminate the noise. The unnecessary is noise. More variables means less signal as to things that are working. This process might be slower yet I believe it leads to a stronger signal of love, joy and less noise. My son and I have a stronger connection each day as long as I follow certain principles I believe CRAFT captures more than any other program you might find in one place.

    It seems I am the most important person in my sons life. More importantly, I have a stronger trust in G0d. I have learned to trust in the end of my thoughts and ways knowing that G0d’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine. This helps rid me of the panic I used to feel when my thoughts and ways weren’t working. An example of this was after his relapse when I suggested, “ok, this is part of the process, let’s go get into rehab again!”, and he said, “I’m not going back into rehab”. I immediately said, “Ok, then I am at the end of my thoughts on this and so let’s take some time to try to imagine an option that works best and let G0d have time to help with our imagination.” …something like that… anyway a couple of days later he told me on the phone he had found an outpatient treatment option and he was going to see them that day.

    I’ve read now in a CRAFT book Beyond Addiction that a less intrusive option is always better and I was gravitating to the most intrusive options. I never would have seen this tendency in me before this. I am learning to be less noisy and less disruptive. I think in being less of a distraction my son feels I am a trusted ally in recover. I want to be the one person he will call when he relapses, G0d forbid, like I was this last time(hopefully that is literally the last time).

    He just got a better job with an owner of the business that is in recovery. He will have to quit or cut back the hours in his present work. He has been helping me sell our other children’s stuff they left behind when they went to college on eBay and Facebook Marketplace and we’ve been splitting the money 50/50. I’ve been drug testing him since he relapse and was kicked out of sober living and back home. I’ve learned to tell him that the test results don’t matter that it’s a process and I just need the information. He tested negative for the opiates and oxy and positive for the Suboxone that outpatient treatment has him on.

    I don’t worry nor resent the method of the recovery. I don’t know the way to recovery for him. I don’t think the thoughts He does. I am not distracting my son anymore with noise and disruption. I am grateful I am learning to trust G0d. I am learning that the one signal I need to attune to is eternal love and joy and hope these new alternatives are stronger than my son’s choice of substance in the long run yet not be distracted by the short run noise, disruption, confusion etc. This recovery looks nothing like I thought it would yet until I gave up my thoughts I couldn’t see.

    While he is with me I believe he is learning that I don’t blame G0d for any of this, especially at a time when we need G0d’s help most and so want to see the good in everyone that wants to help us and that G0d’s morale is right under our noses yet we have to realize everyone has a choice and can choose not to be good for our LOs or us along the way. Yet G0d wants them to help and be good yet they can choose not to help and be good; its not G0d’s fault so I am demonstrating in front of my son not to blame and curse G0d for the way the world seems at times. There is much benefit in knowing these perspectives and I tell my son this journey we are in together has taught me so much that I consider it a blessing. Hope this helps.

  3. My daughter has been struggling with Heroin addiction for some time. She first went to treatment when she was 16 and she has been to treatment probably another 20 times since then. We went through all the phases of coming to terms with her disease. We had been to hell and back but with every rehab we learned a bit more and we adjusted our approach. We held our boundaries and applied the tough love approach. About two years ago she was in detox and didn’t receive proper care. She ended up throwing up in her sleep and aspirated vomit into her lungs. She was too overly medicated to wake up. She ending up in the ICU for 10 weeks and she almost died several times. It was the most stressful time for our family. She managed to come through and we felt maybe this was gods way of helping her stop the drugs. She managed to regain her strength. Learned how to walk again and went to rehab. She returned home and got a job and really started to rebuild her life.

    After 8 months of sobriety she relapsed and this time we didn’t feel we would get her back. For four months she was hitting it hard. She was homeless and very sick and living 6 hours from us. This is when we started using CRAFT. We kept in contact instead of blocking her number. We looked for times we felt she was open to hearing about rehab again. We kept the lines of communication open as much as you can with someone who is homeless.

    One late night she called crying to say she had been gang raped and could I get her a room because she had no where to sleep. I got the room for her and made plans to drive to see her. When I got there she still wasn’t ready to get help so I left her alone and told her to think about it. That night she was raped again and I went to pick her up and take her to hospital. She still didn’t want help. I took her to my hotel and told her I would be leaving in the morning and if she wanted help I would get her help. I was not very hopeful but in the morning she said yes. I took her to detox and that started her journey back to the living. She went to rehab again and slowly rebuilt her life. She has 5 months sober now and has a good job and is even planning for her future. Looking at college and becoming a nurse.

    We really have done and seen it all but CRAFT was the first time we were able to bridge the gap between tough love and keeping in contact. My daughter says I saved her life and she seems really grateful and is in a good place. She is buying our old car from us and making payments. She is helpful around the house and just really has a good out look on things. I hope this is a start for a better life but we will always be on guard for relapses in the future.

    1. Dear shelleybobelly, thank you so much for sharing this story. It is so moving to read, both in the pain and hell you lived through, but also in what you were able to help your daughter accomplish. Knowing that CRAFT gave you keys and clues that you didn’t have before is extremely encouraging. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us all.

  4. I would like to share a victory in my sons life. He was just approved for his first HOME.

    This is a big win for our family and one I honestly don’t know that at one time I would have expected. Had anyone asked me six or seven years ago if this was in the cards for him, I don’t know that I could have even answered the question without breaking down.

    My son is 28 years old, he is now six years into his recovery from a nasty opiate addiction that took him from a 200 pound athlete to 120 pounds, sleeping in a dugout at a public baseball park.

    The current condition of his life is something I am profoundly grateful for.

    Two years ago I celebrated with my support group when he bought his first car, it was especially meaningful because at one point in his active use he lived for weeks in a car in a Walmart parking lot. Progress has even deeper meaning when you’ve lived through something like that.

    The fact that he is thriving, living a life to be proud of and having just obtained his first house, says just how far anyone can come in recovery. We have come a long way as a family unit. So much has been healed and restored, some things are better than before. Some things are stronger due to what we’ve gone through as a family.

    I was never one to brag about things going well in my family under normal conditions, I’m just not the type. And to be honest I didn’t have a lot to brag about anyway. But this milestone seems too praiseworthy to not share.

    No matter how dark someone gets into addiction or alcoholism, it’s 100% possible for them to come out of it and have a life that exceeds all hope and predictions.

    Today we are rejoicing in the gift of recovery!


    1. Stories like this make all the difference in restoring hope. Our LO’s struggles are very real and life threatening. To hear that others like them can rise above and move forward toward a healthier and happier life means the world. We do not need perfection, just its pursuit. Thank you for the stories of victory.

  5. I wanted to share some updates. Though my son is still using, we had some unexpected wins in the last week or so, which all happened after meeting with his psychiatrist for a med check. Not missing the appointment was a win. His doctor knows about my concerns with his use and how it keeps him from functioning. He asked my son great questions, and for the most part my son was honest, but he wouldn’t admit the connection between his drug use and the struggles he’s having. When his doctor asked him about his relationship with us, my son told him, “It’s good when I’m not using, but they’re hostile when I do use”. I guess he is feeling the effects of CRAFT (even though our hostility emerges very seldom now).

    Eventually, his doctor told him that only he, my son, can determine if he’s using too much, but that he needs to be vigilant to make sure it’s not affecting his relationship with his family and getting in the way of his goals to graduate, etc. Later that day, my son missed his drum lessons for the second week in a row because he was hanging out with his friends. He loves his drum teacher and I know he felt bad about it.

    THEN, later that week he stayed in twice after being asked to go hang out, and he went to school for the first time in a couple of weeks. Once, I actually heard him tell his friend that it was too late to go out and he had school in the morning. He even submitted is university application (now we just need to get him to graduate).

    Last Saturday, he was home all day. This was a huge chunk of time that he spend at home and given the other wins earlier in the week, I offered to take him driving as a reward. I haven’t done this before. I enjoyed our time so much and told him I hope we can do it more often, but that I need to feel safe when he’s behind the wheel, and he knows what he needs to do. I think he enjoyed our time together, too.

    Saturday evening didn’t turn out so good. He came home very stoned, a few minutes before his midnight curfew, when he gets a call from his other using friend inviting him to go over. He asked me if he could go, I said no, he’s said he’s going to go, I said don’t erase the positive things you’ve built up this week, he says he’s going to go, and I said then don’t come home until you are sober tomorrow. He leaves, I lock the door, and about 20 minutes later I hear him trying to get in the house, but he was locked out. I haven’t had a chance to tell him we don’t want him to come home stoned anymore, like you suggested, and I could tell he was surprised when I told him not to come home – even though he was pretty stoned.

    He ended up back at his friends (I tracked him), so I was able to sleep that night. We didn’t see him until the next day. When he came home, he said he tried to get in the night before. I just said maybe you shouldn’t have left. Then he said he was going to call his cousin to see about going to a Super Bowl party later that day. I was hoping all week he would do this because this party would have great kids there and no alcohol or drugs. I stepped away from him for the day thinking this was all talk, but to my surprise, he did go to this party, with his cousin. When he came home, he said he had a good time, but he seemed melancholy. I suspect it’s got to feel awkward reconnecting with kids he’s blown off for his using friends, but I know these kids always ask about him. I expected him to leave to go use, but he stayed home.

    He went to school on Monday, and after not hearing from him all day, he came home pretty stoned. On Tuesday, he didn’t go to school. We asked him if we could talk to him about some boundaries (the not coming home stoned thing), but he didn’t want to. That day, he stayed home, spent about 3 hours teaching himself a song on the piano, then left for his drum lesson, which he’d missed the two weeks before, and stayed for dinner before going out with his using friend. He came home on time – not sure if he used or not. We had a huge snow storm on Wednesday and he even cleaned the driveway with the snow blower after I asked him to. What???

    I’ve written so many times about my frustrations with him, that I wanted to share some very unexpected wins we’ve had. These are behaviors we haven’t seen for a very, very long time. We aren’t in the clear, and I know patience is key, but it’s so nice to finally see a glimmer of hope. Thank you AIR, CRAFT, and this entire community. I’ve read so many of the blog postings and recognize so many of the challenges of living with an LO who uses. I’m hesitant to be too optimistic, but I do continue to be hopeful. Approaching my LO’s use with CRAFT has had such an impact on me. It’s lightened the burden of living with my son’s SUD and is helping me rebuild my life and my relationship with my son.

    But I must say, I couldn’t do CRAFT effectively without the support of AIR. AIR is what’s helped me see how to apply CRAFT in my situation. AIR has provided me clarity, strength and encouragement. AIR has kept me from reacting and helps me to think strategically about how to best support my son. AIR is making a HUGE DIFFERENCE and I can’t thank you enough.

    1. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful read you gave us. We have so appreciated your detail, the blow by blow….. it is in these small actions that things start to change. This account demonstrates your willingness and yes, the WINS! Please thank the psychiatrist too. Hearing it from a professional in authority is important. It sounds like he also pushed the decisions onto your son. Well done.

      I laughed imagining your son scratching at the door late at night to get back in… A moment of lightness (at least for us on the sidelines) as we imagine your son’s face when he found the door locked.

      You are using space, responsibility, warmth, and the big chill, with effect. Hurray THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

      1. Gptraveler and Dominque, thank you for your support. Strange as it sounds, we haven’t had a chance to formally talk to my son about not coming home stoned. When we’ve asked him if we could talk to him, he hasn’t been interested. Other times, we didn’t feel it was appropriate either because we saw glimpses of who our son is before he started using and we didn’t want to interrupt that, or he was stoned.

        These past couple of days, he’s been hanging out with his sketchy friend that’s back in the picture and coming home very stoned. I’m not sure if it was a good move, but I emailed him what I wanted to say about him not coming home stoned any more and I texted asking him to please read the email I sent him. I used the suggested wording given to me earlier as the basis for my email. It started with expressing the joy he brings us when he’s sober, the pain of seeing him stoned and the request to not come home sober, ending with the reminder that we love him and will always be here for him. I feel this was so impersonal, but I was feeling like if I didn’t email him, more and more time would go by without him experiencing the struggles of his drug use. I’m recognizing the fear I’m feeling of all that could happen and how he might interpret it, but at the same time I feel relieved that we’ve drawn that boundary. I plan on asking him if he’s read it as soon as the opportunity is right. What are your thoughts?

        1. There is a tension that is palpable in your comment about the timing of things. There is so much to say to a Loved One who is using, and we’ve made you aware of communication and timing in module 4. I can see how you’d be wondering when and how do I tell him not to bother coming home when high.

          Using email and then reminders by text can work. It’s a little tricky to write things you want to say, for all the reasons we know; the written word or the tone can be misread.

          You do what you can to get the message across. There are many opportunities to do the small actions suggested in the modules. Don’t get too twisted up in getting everything right all the time. It simply won’t happen that way.

          Your son will likely give you an opening to repeat this information, in case he decided to ignore you. The idea that you would lock your door on him when high – read or spoken, will surely jar him, even if he doesn’t respect your wishes going forward.

          Thank you again for bringing your concerns to this site. It is very helpful to hear how it is going at this level of detail.

        2. I understand you need to talk with your son and that he is not up for it at this time. I have been there. Our daughter would not speak with me face to face or even over the phone. I went to emails so I could share whatever it was I needed to put out there. She generally would email a reply showing me she understood what I was saying. At the same time, if she had been using, she would be harsh in her replies. If she was working something that resembled recovery, her replies were more positive. I was emailing daily and she made it clear I had to quit that.
          Another approach in communicating that worked for me was to write emails about how her drinking was affecting me and what I was doing to help myself. It was genuine self care and it worked for helping me separate myself from her chaos. Now, I never speak of her drinking. I am talking to myself to stay out of it and keeping that distance. We have so little control anyway and can only offer the love and support for their recovery. Once we have made that clear, they know it.
          For whatever reason (I think her new job) she has been doing well according to her boyfriend. I am not digging for details, just saying “That’s good to hear” and leaving it there. Now my emails with her are about everything else in her life or ours.
          Let’s say I hear she is relapsing. I will offer support for recovery options and tell her I am keeping myself away from directly interacting with her abuse. Saying that will remind me to take care of myself and I sure need those reminders as care giving is in my blood.

        3. I can’t say it enough, but thank you once again. I so appreciate your insights and support. With every response, I build strength and resilience. I can differentiate better between interacting with my son versus the drug that’s taken over his mind. I overcome my lows more quickly and feel less of the despair and powerlessness that once consumed me. Peace to you and yours.

    2. What a wonderful report. Your son is respected and knows that you deserve respect as well. Your boundaries are real and personal for him. You are giving him tons of opportunities for reflection and then the freedom to choose. Yes, he’s still young but making the connections between what he wants for himself and the choices he makes are teaching him in the best way. I see so much potential for positive results here. Thanks for sharing.

  6. It’s been 4 months since my son relapsed after 20 months in treatment/recovery. Despite some challenges he now has 90 new sober days. I’ll take it. CRAFT – and your support – has been invaluable. Thank you.

    Today brought a new problem: right before we broke for the holiday my employer sent me a long email complaining about my performance, and advising me to spend the holidays thinking about ‘why’ the work has slipped and to come back with a plan to improve.

    I don’t have to wonder why I’ve not been 100% on task and you probably don’t either: since August my son has ODd 3 times, gone missing here and there, left treatment after his housemate died, and had two drug-fueled psychotic episodes. I was pulled away from 3 separate work events this fall by 3 different urgent crisis calls from professionals concerning my son. The financial pressure is intense. Honestly it’s a wonder I’ve been as productive as I’ve been.

    My boss knows none of this. Telling him would NOT be helpful. (Trust me). I am only posting this on these pages because I can feel his note triggering my anxiety and deep shame, It’s stoking fear of losing my job and house and my ability to support myself. I don’t want to internalize his judgment and spiral into shame, isolation and despair. I feel so guilty and ashamed.

    Work has been my respite but now addiction is impacting that area of my life too. I will continue to work on separating my mom life (worry about my kid) from my work life. I will come back with a plan to remain productive. I will not let that mean-spirited note derail me or ruin my Christmas. That’s the plan, anyway. But I’m tuckered out with little to look forward to. Thank you for listening.

    1. How unkind to not talk to you in person and to send the email right before the holiday. There is no doubt that when a Loved One is struggling, work performance suffers, absenteeism occurs, and work-related accidents take place because family members are distracted. A Hazelden poll noted these findings in a poll taken over 20 years ago.

      Other than this poll, and anecdotal situations like yours, we know little about the macro effects of poor job performance by family members due to a Loved One’s addiction. They are undoubtedly huge. Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response here:

    2. StrongerTogether,

      When my daughter’s addiction spiraled out this fall, I applied for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act through my employer. It allows me to take intermittent time off as needed — no questions asked — to care for her and/or to tend to related matters. Her condition is protected health information so management does not need to know, nor can they ask. (I shared with my immediate supervisor, but it wasn’t necessary.)

      FMLA (Oregon Family Leave Act/OFLA in my case) has been a blessing for me and my daughter. I have been able to “drop everything” to meet her in the community, care for her during withdrawal, visit her in treatment, attend family therapy, see my own therapist, attend Al-Anon meetings, practice self-care, etc. It gives me an opportunity to put health and wellbeing ahead of work demands, albeit momentarily. It also takes the pressure off — even clients understand why I may take a bit longer to return calls or emails. I added a tagline to my email signature, notifying people that I am “taking intermittent OFLA/FMLA…please contact my supervisor if the matter is urgent.” So liberating, and frankly, life saving.

      I hope FMLA is an option for you. If so, you may want to look into it.

      Take care.