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We’re Living Through Hell – Is There Any Reason to Keep Hoping It Might Get Better?

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This new member feels her son's addiction is a living hell and wonders if there's any hope. Cravings seem to rule his life. Fear and depression are currently ruling hers. She senses asking him to leave might be an option but wonders what will happen to him…Here we give an overview of what CRAFT can do, even in seemingly hopeless situations.

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My 25 year old son is using heroin, Xanax, adderall, cocaine and crack. When he runs out of money he will use Xanax and adderall. He refuses treatment. Went twice and relapsed immediately. He only went because of legal matters. He lives at home. Doesn't have a car now since he crashed it…lucky to be alive or not kill someone else.

I love him with all my heart… but the drugs have taken his soul. I feel like the drugs are the devil and removed his soul. If I kick him out the house … where can he go?

Has anyone experienced a loved one going to jail and jail time helped or not helped? I am so lost. He is supposed to take Zubsolv to help his cravings but he isn't consistent. I feel like all he thinks about is how to keep getting his drugs. I am so afraid of losing him to death… I already lost him to drugs… is there any hope for my son and my family. I am so miserable and depressed. I don't want to kick him out of the house… I want my son back. Right now my son isn't himself.

His cravings are out of control and he has a disease that is destroying his life and his family's life. I wish he was sober, saving his money. Family's that go through this are living in hell. This is truly hell and the devil has taken my son.

I can hear the hopelessness and despair that have moved in with you for the time being. Dear pleasehelpmeGod, we are so, so glad you landed on this site, in this community. There is admittedly much we cannot control in this life, but we are here to show you, and remind you, that there is also much you can regain control over. And yes, there is hope. Before I go on, take it from some of the thousands of members on this site:

“Thanks to Allies in Recovery, CRAFT and the podcasts, my loved one is starting treatment.” — PThasnohead, Allies member


"Thinking well has leveled my emotions dramatically. I have to say it worth every bit of work if it only had helped me. But I am so thankful for the part I have been able to do to help my husband too.   So this is my encouragement to all here — that this insight and instruction can really work and change the dynamic of your life.”  —E320, Allies member 


"Allies has been such a help and comfort to me. The good vibes that are so abundantly in and around my life right now are absolutely due to  CRAFT.”   — michael111, Allies Member 


“I’ve read so many of the blog postings and recognize so many of the challenges of living with a loved one who uses. Approaching my loved one’s use with CRAFT has had such an impact on me. It has lightened the burden of living with my son’s substance use disorder and is helping me rebuild my life and my relationship with my son. I know patience is key, but it’s so nice to finally see a glimmer of hope. Thank you Allies in Recovery, CRAFT, and this entire community."  — Hopefulin2018, Allies member


" In a world where you don't always know where to turn for help, this has been immensely helpful in dealing with a horrific situation.  Thank you again for taking the time to advise and guide me in these unchartered waters! "  — momoftwins, Allies member


“In the past year, we have been practicing calm talking with love and catching him doing things right. He has been able to achieve better sobriety, more confidence in himself and allows us to be involved in advising him on important career decisions. Our house is a far more peaceful place!”  —JeanCooney, Allies member


There is absolutely reason to hope things will get better! Here's how…

I hope you're getting the drift. We teach family members the CRAFT method, and we guide you through the process. This method has proven results. So YES! there is absolutely reason to hope that your situation is going to improve.

It will require:

  • your commitment to coming back to the site again and again;

  • watching the eLearning modules and

  • doing the exercises.

Allies in Recovery is something between school and boot camp for the family. "Shouldn't my son be the one doing the training?" you might ask. Yes, of course. In order to extricate himself from the chains of addiction, he will most certainly have work to do. But as you wrote, he is not currently motivated.

Your son isn't motivated to go to treatment? This isn't an insurmountable problem.

His lack of apparent motivation is not an insurmountable problem. CRAFT was actually designed for people who were unwilling to go to treatment. So you're in the right place. We are ready to help.

CRAFT is a sort of quiet, gradual, soft and subtle intervention. It's done by the family, who knows the Loved One better than any professional could. It isn't done overnight or in one sitting, like many interventions. And it does indeed require the family to allow for at least 10-12 weeks of working the program: practicing, watching the videos or reading the eBooks, writing in for guidance, practicing more, researching treatment options, and getting prepared for the 'planned conversation'.

He may not show any motivation today (in fact he may give all signs of being totally against treatment) but it is your newly learned behaviors, ways of responding and improved self-care that can converge into real momentum, inspiring your Loved One to:

–      trust you more,

–      come to you when they're feeling down or needing help

–      (re)consider treatment or perhaps choose to prolong the treatment they're in.

What matters more? What he's been doing for years, or what he did yesterday?

The answer is: what he did yesterday is much for important to implementing CRAFT than what he's done for years. What he is doing right now, in this moment, is going to be the key to your helping him.

This one is not so easy for families to wrap their mind around when they start with CRAFT. Understandably so, as so many of us have gone through nothing short of trauma in relation to our Loved Ones' addictions and ensuing behaviors/life challenges.

The heavy, dramatic, traumatic history of it all weighs on us, and can actually prevent us from helping them move forward today.  So, as the Key Observations exercises will guide you to consider, his habits of use, the signs and symptoms, the things that feel rewarding to him now, and the behaviors you are observing yesterday, today, this week (but not last year) are going to be the keys and clues and guides for you to help him better, with more precision, now.

However, CRAFT is a set of skills, a well-studied method, based largely on gathering evidence in the present moment and responding accordingly.

As you implement your newfound skills and ways of responding, new patterns and results emerge:

The way we communicate with and respond to our Loved One, depending on if they are using (or about to, or still experiencing after-effects) or not using in that moment, is, in turn, going to produce new patterns and results:

  • Communications become less strained; tension lifts;

  • Family members start to feel less stress, hopelessness, and suffer less in general;

  • Loved Ones feel more compassion and less judgment coming from you; trust builds;

  • Loved Ones start to notice that you aren't there for them all the time, they start to feel more alone and/or experience more consequences of their use, as you gently disengage and "remove rewards" during times of use;

  • Loved Ones start to associate more positive things (like your presence, or your help) with times they're not using, therefore motivating them to not use more often;

  • Loved Ones' using episodes begin to reduce in length and/or frequency;

  • Loved Ones hear us (their family/entourage) talking much, much less about their addiction, their shortcomings, their bad behaviors. Those unfruitful, tense exchanges begin to disappear and this allows them to take their hands off their ears, and start listening more to what their own body, and inner voice of wisdom, have to say;

  • Loved Ones begin to open up more to the idea of starting treatment, or pursuing it.

Our team saw several positive and encouraging aspects in your comment

Though you, yourself, feel you're at the end of your rope and wonder if there's any point in continuing to have hope, we at Allies have identified several positives in your comment:

–      Your son has been to treatment twice.

OK, I hear you, he didn't stay, and it didn't stick. But the very fact of starting treatment means that seeds of understanding have already been planted in your son's mind. He is aware there is a problem. He may not be convinced yet that treatment will resolve it.
You say he only accepted to go to treatment because of legal problems. We're OK with that. Research comparing reasons for entering treatment with success once there, and recovery/relapse rates show no decisive preference for one way of getting there. In other words, whether he goes to treatment because it was mandated, or because he chose to do so on his own, may not be as important as we think.

–      He is taking psychiatric medication as well as Suboxone for cravings.

We understand from your comment that he is also misusing them. But the fact that he is prescribed these medications means he has access to one level of psychiatric support.

You are within your rights to call the doctor who prescribed the meds, and leave a message informing them about the regular misuse. Given his history of Substance Use Disorder, your son should not be getting benzodiazepines. You could suggest he be tested for other illicit drugs to receive the appropriate psychiatric meds.

Misusing Adderall can produce psychotic episodes, as could his use of methamphetamine.

His doctor/psychiatrist won't be able to divulge any personal information about your son, but they are obliged to receive whatever you wish to communicate about the dangers your son is currently facing.

He's taking Zubsolv, a suboxone product, for his cravings, so he's had some engagement with treatment. Is the same doctor prescribing this? Could a monthly implant of the same drug work better if he's having trouble taking it regularly?

–      You found Allies in Recovery!!

This is no small feat. You are no longer alone, and you are now a member of a community that is overflowing with support, ways to learn real skills that work, professionals to guide you, and regular reminders to take care of your Self.

You will see and hear us reminding you and other members of the importance of self-care quite often. Why? Not because "self-care" is a trendy thing but because of the "oxygen mask" reality. If you've taken a plane, you know the now-famous admonition to put on your own mask, and only then help those you're travelling with. This program works in a similar way. Getting yourself back to a place where you feel more centered, where you can breathe again, where you're not in emotional crisis day in-day out, are all essential to allow you to help your Loved One.

This site, and the CRAFT method, are indeed about becoming an agent of change — for yourself, and for your Loved One. The love you feel so strongly for your son will be the perfect fuel for your work/learning. It does require effort on your part, but we hope you will soon feel charged, and held up, by the amazing energy on this site. The work may not feel too hard when you know you're supported, and we're in this together.

So, we encourage you to put aside some time every day if possible, to go through the 8 Learning Modules — the videos and the exercises. Stick to it. Write in to the Discussion Blog when you hit a rough patch or need guidance regarding a specific problem.

Next Steps: You ask about jail, or kicking him out of the house

Asking a Loved One to leave the house is a huge, and very relevant topic for our family members. Because of course, agreeing to let a Loved One stay in your home is a reward. And as you'll see the more you delve into CRAFT, the more you will be able to reward moments (or days) of non-use. 

We have written extensively on the topic of the home as a reward. Here are posts on the topic, and here is a post detailing a strategy we call "the Daybed and Footlocker strategy" which is about limiting their ability to hunker down, hide out and use in your home.

As for jail, and whether that could be an option, we'd also encourage you to read some of the posts on this blog addressing the question of jail, and civil commitment.

Here are a few paragraphs from a post by Dominique Simon-Levine on this blog:

" CRAFT would suggest you do not raise the comfort level for your son, so we often suggest you step away from the legal proceedings, and not fight his defense with him. Let him pay for legal representation, or get a court-appointed attorney. Don’t jump in and tell him it will be all right. Let him deal with all things court-related, don’t even go to court.

There is one exception: We have suggested to families that they call the attorney and let them know how seriously ill their Loved One is; how the family stands behind any effort to support the Loved One into treatment.

You may get pushback, should your son learn you did this, or from the attorney, whose job they may tell you is to get your son off, not into treatment. By calling the attorney you will have done what you can to support your son going to treatment."

Do the words I choose matter? Has his soul been taken over by the devil? Have I lost him?

Part of the work we as families have to do in becoming better positioned to help our struggling Loved Ones, is in the way we think, and talk, about their struggles.

I've already given you a fair amount of suggested reading but it might also be good to check out this post by guest blogger Annie Highwater, who was also going out of her mind for years when her son was deeply addicted to opiates. He is now 5+ years in recovery. It's called Facing the Truth About a Loved One.

We are here for you, as I hope you are starting to feel. CRAFT has helped so many families turn around the most seemingly hopeless situations. Yours could be one of them. We wish you fortitude and newfound faith as you embark on this journey.



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"...)