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When the Wish Came, I Didn’t See It

What do you mean? sidewalk - cropped version

lieveDo’s friend texted her about his desire to move in with her and she suspects he did so under the influence. She is growing frustrated with his substance use and feels the need to step back. In retrospect, she fears she missed the opportunity to respond to a 'wish'.

© Jon Tyson via Unsplash

"Thank you for this helpful information. My question is: my Loved One expresses in an app message that he wants me to move in with him. I think he is drinking and feeling sentimental and/or ready to please me by saying this, as a form of manipulation. But maybe it's a wish, I later on guessed…I texted that we should discuss this face to face and went on, and he was disappointed."

So: was I right to disengage or was this a wish…?

Here is lieveDo's second comment, providing more background information…

"My friend abuses alcohol and was in and out treatment in the past few years. He was sober for half a year and went to NA meetings, but since the Covid 19 situation he started drinking again. We have a part time relationship. We see each other every weekend. When I'm around he doesn't drink (I hope).
When I'm not there I sense alcohol abuse through his app messages. When I try to ask him what his plans are (does he wants to recover or to drink mildly, or..?), he is putting his answers on hold. He is working on it, wants to do something about his problems he says, but is keeping me waiting for answers for weeks. Today I told him without being angry, that it is o.k., that he needs more time and that I will wait, but I won’t' visit him anymore while I'm waiting, for it is too stressful for me.
I feel relieved but also doubt…have I sent his thinking in the wrong direction? Maybe he feels I'm challenging him? Or is this indeed the only way to handle this?"

Your Loved One is drinking when he is not with you. You see him every other weekend. In texts, he says he wants you to move in together. He has an alcohol problem and just recently had 6 months of sobriety by going to NA. The COVID shutdown has made everything more difficult for those with addiction, and their families. It probably disrupted his recovery routine in short order and he started drinking again.

You suspect he is drinking from the texts he is sending, like the one about moving in together. You sensed a sentimentality in his words that suggests he had been drinking. You second guessed yourself afterwards and wondered if you had missed an opportunity to talk about treatment.

We are all operating in this grey zone with our Loved Ones. You can’t be 100% sure about his drinking in that moment. You sized up his text, suspected he had been drinking when he wrote it. You were right to take a step back, examine his text in a careful manner and not give in to the sentimentality.

Your instincts were sound. You are clear with your Loved One that he cannot drink around you, and that you expect him to stop drinking. Setting your boundaries is a major part of this process, it is protecting you and it is beneficial to him too.   

You are asking whether his wish to live together was a missed moment to talk about treatment.

Again, I think you were right to suggest that you talk about it in person (when he hasn’t been drinking).  

His texting about moving in together was indeed a wish, but he was probably under the influence of alcohol, not a time for such serious discussions. Ideally, when you do have this conversation, you will both be calm and clear-headed.

That grey zone made you question your action. You did what we all must do, which is to size up our Loved One in the moment and respond by stepping away when they are drinking (go deeper with this, watch Module 6); and stepping in when they are not drinking (see Module 5).

His expressing himself, even though it was somewhat clumsy and inappropriate, is still showing you that he is reflecting upon what he needs and wants. The fact that he manifested his wish when under the influence shows you he isn’t quite ready.

Your response was helpful in many ways: you did not completely shut him off and are leaving the door open for discussion. You are also taking a calm and collected stance, setting an example of what you want communication to be like between the two of you going forward.  

You now have the opportunity to talk to him in person about his wish for more with you in the future. Maybe when you next see him it goes like this:

“I care about you and would someday like to live together. You are drinking. I understand that. You have been working on the drinking, but I know that you are struggling. Is there something I can do to help?”

You are thinking of not seeing him on weekends anymore. You wrote about how stressful the situation is for you. Listening to yourself and doing what feels right for you in the moment are indeed essential.

You have instinctively grasped a principle of CRAFT. You and your presence by his side are a reward to him. This is powerful and you can use it to implement CRAFT. Can you shift your perspective here? Consider seeing this in the moment rather than in absolute terms (“I will not see him until he stops”).

Rather than not seeing him on those weekends, perhaps you do. He doesn’t drink when you’re there. This is important for him and is encouraging him not to drink.

Your Loved One has been abstinent in the past; he knows what works for him. Can you continue with what you are doing? Could you keep holding the line on no drinking while together and offering to help him any way you can to not drink?

Module 8 talks about how to identify wishes and dips, and what to do when you do hear one. Your Loved One wishes you could move in together. You correctly put him off. His texted wish is an opportunity to talk seriously about more treatment options when you do see him.

Remember though, family members can sometimes sound like a broken record to their Loved Ones. In this case, perhaps you leave the serious treatment talk for a moment when your relationship’s future is back on the table.

Thank you for reaching out and for joining this community. It sounds like your instincts are steering you in the right direction. You have already integrated some of the essential concepts CRAFT teaches us. Should you need any type of support or insight going forward, know we are here for you.

In the meantime, I encourage you to continue reading through the articles from the Discussion Blog as well as from the Sanctuary Blog. Take a look at our Resource Supplement for support options for family members and keep listening to yourself and to your needs.

We always talk about the importance of self-care because at the end of the day, if you forget yourself, if you feel exhausted and out of balance, you won’t be able to help your Loved One. Make time for yourself, figure out what makes you feel connected to you and indulge as you please. It will help you feel focused and hopefully you will not feel as anxious on the weeks you don’t see your Loved One.

I hope this is helpful — keep us posted on the steps you are taking.



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. Thank you very much for the good advice and care. I have a practical question; are you familiar with Baclofen as a way to decrease cravings? I read about it but I am not sure if I should mention it to my LO. Right now he takes Campral and so far it seems to help. But for numerous reasons (it seems it’s also helpful with depression?) I think Baclofen is something to hold in the back of my mind.

    1. Dear lieveDo,

      This is a very important question, thank you very much for writing in.

      There are a few alternative medicines out there being tested by people suffering from alcoholism. These drugs lack scientific testing and your Loved One should be careful with them.

      In this article ( ) you can read about the Sinclair method, which is not an abstinence-based treatment method.
      It is particularly relevant to your Loved One’s situation since he has a long history of relapse. Indeed, this article tackles the relationship that exists between alcohol deprivation and severe cravings.

      Just keep in mind that these drugs lack safety and clinical studies, which doesn’t mean they do not work.

      However, on your end it is crucial you stay out of his treatment specifics, unless there is a real problem. I understand you are concerned with the situation. Keep an eye on your Loved One, making sure he stays safe but mostly focus on rewarding non-use.

      Campral is helping right now. He can keep following his treatment as long as it works for him.

      Again, thank you for your question. Our hearts go out to you. Please keep reaching out when needed.

  2. Could you give me advice about whether I should talk with my LO about the existence of Allies in recovery or not. I think it will benefit me more to know he does not read my blog input and stuff, but should he come to know about it, then what? I don’t want to have secrets but on the other hand I don’t want to show him all my recovery cards…

    In addition; is it a good idea to tell him about the new 5-actions website? He already has therapy and used to visit NA meetings before Covid but never committed to the program with a sponsor and doing the steps properly. I feel that the 5-actions could be helpful in addition but I just don’t know how to bring this to his attention without having to explain about Allies in Recovery…

    1. It’s up to you whether you tell your Loved One about Allies in Recovery. The site is for family and friends, and not for him. How about you tell him that you are getting guidance on how to behave and take care of yourself as the person you love struggles with sobriety.

      Loved Ones don’t realize that others are dramatically affected by another’s drug and alcohol use. You have feelings and needs and fears that need addressing so that you can be the best Ally to him. That is the goal of our site. is like low hanging fruit. Dr. Fitzgerald calls it self-treatment for the person with addiction. It is completely online and free during the COVID shutdown. All you need is a computer and internet connection, like with Allies in Recovery.

      I suggest everyone add this to their treatment list when they find the right moment to talk about treatment. We have family members watching with their Loved One.

      In my own case, my niece called to say she drank two bottles of wine the day before and was going to watch 5-Actions. The next week she made an appointment for her anxiety and to address her lingering trauma symptoms, which, along with early attachment, are key to coming to terms for overcoming addiction. So, yes, can be very helpful.

  3. Thanks Dominique. Yet again an eye-opener for me: going in detox at home is withdrawing (I am Dutch and the english language is sometimes a little less easy to digest/ comprehend the right way I guess…) and I should have waited to reward. I wanted to reward him for his plans to go detoxing so I went and visited him. The notion of using/ withdrawing is still not sober, so don’t step up too early, is now more clear for me.

  4. I feel so helped and supported!
    Thank you so much!
    Things have turned for the better. At first his drinking continued as I experienced through his texting. I engaged and disengaged the best I could. 

    One day he was drunk and sending me very depressing Youtube songs, expressing that he wanted me to leave him for he was no good. Normally this would have affected me enormously. But not this time. I friendly texted him that I was not in the mood to watch the songs, maybe later, and went on doing my thing.

    Later on he was in a drunk jealous mood and fired jealous texts. I hardly gave any reaction, except in a friendly manner that his thoughts were not correct and that I would talk about it with him in person, later that week. I decided to plan a visit regardless him drinking or not, and to reward him by staying longer or just leave the next day, should he be drinking. 

    A few days before, he texted. He opened up about his drinking and the fact that he could not stop like he had planned, in order to see me without drinking. He was fed up and went in detox at home again.
    When he told me that he started detoxing again I reacted in a very happy, non judgmental way. He seemed pleasantly surprised…  Thanks to Craft, I can feel much more positive, for him trying over and over again to stop drinking is a sign of hope, rather than failure. This is an eye opener.

    He will start Campral after this detox. He spoke to his therapist about it. I stayed out of giving advise or comments, for he already had figured everything out himself. I am so glad I did not, I only offered him to visit him and stay with him for the weekend, and also to visit him an extra time this week if he feels that could be supporting.

    I asked him to offer me to pay my extra traveling costs, should he decide. I feel that’s important: for him to acknowledge that it is an act of help instead of me wanting his care and attention. He often tries to put the  focus on me instead of him. He often wants to talk about my problems instead of his, and denies what’s going on. 

    I do my exercises and modules and I find it inspiring and very helpful. It gives me joy to think what I can do to reward him being sober. It also helps me feeling much better, even joyful. It gives a very good sense of direction.

    Again, thanks!

    Thanks and all the best, Do

      1. @lieveDo thank you for sharing this turn for the better! I, too, am practicing CRAFT with an (ex) partner and I too have experienced the inspiration and even joy you describe. It is truly an incredible feeling when you see evidence that they are taking that reward and using it to fuel their attempts at sobriety. Any little step forward feels like a point scored by the team (even if they don’t realize we’re on the team, playing on their side and rooting and doing everything possible to help them score the next goal).

        In the course of just a few months I have watched my LO get clearer, more honest, less ashamed, and more determined to truly get control of his addiction(s) (still not sure if he is considering his vaping/cigarette smoking as something to look at along with the drinking; On his Self-Treatment eLearning site for the person who is addicted,, Dr. John Fitzgerald explains that all addictions must be looked at as a package…)

        Anyway, it is such a beautiful thing to see, to witness, these baby steps which are nevertheless HUGE for them. And to be a part of it is an honor. Whether or not he ever knows what I’m doing now, simply doesn’t matter. The reward for the family is also huge.

        All the best to you and your LO.

        1. Thanks@harris_po. Its very encouraging to read about your experiences. I hope a lot of good is coming from the CRAFT approach. It’s not always easy. Last night I visited my LO. I wasn’t sure if he had used or not. I communicated the best I could. So I’m a little sad and confused, but I regain my strength easier than before. All the best to you!

        2. My LO could not see my extra visit as a helpful act. He thinks I should visit him because I enjoy staying with him. I normally ( when sober) do, but this time he was detoxing with Valium and was like he was drunk and sarcastic. I told him as friendly as I could that this visit could have been more pleasant for the both of us. I suggested to wait my next visit after he will have ended the detox with Valium. Before CRAFT I would have felt depressed right now. But applying CRAFT I feel calmer.

        3. LieveDo: When deciding to visit or otherwise step in towards your Loved One, you want to separate the time he is about to use, using, or withdrawing from use, as a time to step away and not reward. When he is done withdrawing, then you go back to rewarding.

          Valium is a benzodiazepine. It is also addictive. Your Loved One may know what he is doing by using the Valium to help with alcohol withdrawals. It is also a dangerous combination. Both drugs depress the respiratory system. Both drugs can lead to life-endangering seizures in withdrawal.

          Perhaps you find a local detox in your area and if you see your Loved One is struggling with his withdrawals, you provide him the information. You’ll need to get the details of what your LO should do to be admitted.

        4. Dear Dominique. Thank you for your feedback. The valium (diazepam) is on prescription of his doctor and he says he is following an 8 days detox. He has done this many times. These last few days he has done a lot of chores around the house. It seems that it’s not possible to work this hard while using I thought, for in the past he got very passive while using, but now I’m confused by the way he communicates and how he looks. My intuition says he is not sober, but I do not understand how it can be for he is also very active… it’s a big depressing mystery for me. I am now trying to rest and feel better myself. I told him I need some time for myself, that I am yet still too worried about him. I’m afraid my approach is not Craft but I tried at least not to criticize or talk about my depressed feelings about it…

        5. Ps he speaks to his therapist (familiar with his alcoholism) once a week and spoke to a addiction doctor about the Campral he wants to take. I don’t really know what to do.

        6. You are fine. You can’t know exactly what is going on. He is saying he is withdrawing under the guidance of a doctor. That is very good news. Valium for withdrawal is very typical, I just thought he was buying them off the streets.

          Let him withdraw alone. He is not in the best frame of mind. If he has had trouble coming off the alcohol, he will tell you or you will sense it right away. I am glad to hear he is under the watch of a doctor.

        7. latest update: My LO is sober and our communication is fine. He appears sincere and I do my best to enable nice communication and experiences.

        8. Dear lieveDo,

          Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop. It’s heartening to hear that you feel better and that communication is flowing between you and your Loved One.
          We are looking forward to reading more about your experience of CRAFT. We are here for you should more questions arise.

          All the best to the both of you.

        9. Dear CRAFT helpers 🙂
          For several weeks my LO does not drink and benefits a lot from the Campral he says. It makes it a lot less hard to stay sober. So that’s very positive.
          We see each other every weekend and more often. He goes to therapy and is on a waiting list for a much more intensive therapy in about 6 months. So he takes it seriously not to use.
          I do my best to live a healthy and happy life to reward both him and myself in our relationship.

          There are some things that I find difficult in this moment. the first one: he does not have much patience with me when doing something wrong (clumsy) in his eyes. He will raise his voice and sound bossy and resentful, a narcissist trait. I don’t know how to react, it triggers my immediate hurted and angry response. It makes me very unhappy and it surprises me every time he does this and I’m afraid he will not change. I often disengage and go for a walk, but often I don’t feel like taking a walk and feel like a fool to be outside when I would rather be in the house but send myself away…

          It happens too often, it’s becoming a joke to him I’m afraid.
          My second worry:
          He plays with his cellphone every day, lots of hours. He does a language course and some sudokus. I observe him being a little addicted but it does not seem to be harmful. At least his language skills have improved a lot. But for a few days he has been playing West Game. It makes stupid noises, he receives lots of messages during the day. It’s a free app but by buying things you can improve. I also learned there is a pokergame inside this game app. He used to be addicted to poker once, a long time ago and lost a lot of money in those days. And before a relapse just some months ago he went playing online poker and started drinking again soon after.

          Therefore I’m worried. I told him I was a little worried but I cannot control if he wants to play or not but I asked him kindly not to play when I am around. He understood he said and he would try not to play around me. However, he still does. I try do disengage. When we watch tv and he starts playing simultaniously, I go in the other room and play guitar, but I feel stupid for I cannot watch my film, and this morning I woke up and saw him gaming next to me in the bed and what was I to do to disengage? I did not want to get out of bed yet but I did, feeling annoyed.

          Later on he told me not to nag about it (after I disengaged to another room and not being able to completely hide my nerves about it, although I try very hard. I feel so frustrated. I have to change, but I feel sad right now…

        10. In addition: today I did some research on the game and I’m not 100 percent sure it also involves poker, I might be confused with another app of the same sort… But I still think it’s a highly addictive game.

          I was wondering if it would be wise to ask his therapist (I went with my LO to his therapy one time recently) how I should respond, but I’m hesitant for I don’t know how that would make my LO feel, it might send his thinking in the wrong direction.

        11. Dear lieveDo,

          Wow! I have to say you and your partner really have some positives to report. It sounds like he is dedicated to his recovery; seeing a therapist, waitlisted for more intensive therapy and taking his prescribed medicine. Taking care of yourself is also incredibly positive, given how difficult it is when you are in the midst of chaos.

          Your partner is early in his recovery and the behavior you describe in your post is something I hear over and over again from so many families who I work with. I can also share that my son exhibited much of the same behavior. Being confrontational, irritable, and short tempered for a while (and not a short while either), came with protecting his territory. Unfortunately, we are not usually prepared for this type of behavior and often thrown off guard.

          Read Laurie MacDougall’s full response to lieveDo here: