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“I Want To End This Cycle” Was Music To My Ears. How Can I Be My Son’s Best Ally?


Member Barbars has a grown son who struggles with alcohol. The great news is that he wants to change, and she is there for him. Allies writer Laurie MacDougall has some strong advice: invest in CRAFT skills and knowledge right away.

My 47-year-old son has just come “down” from a drunken episode (in which he was arrested at a sporting arena but let go). He’s acknowledging to me that he is an alcoholic and fed up with this “routine” of drinking without stopping, doing something regrettable, and feeling like shit for several days after he has stopped. He said, “I want to end this cycle.” How best do I respond?


Hi Barbars,

It is so wonderful that you are such a support for your son. It is also great to hear that your son is expressing that he wants to change, and that you are a safe space for him to share. It’s your trusting relationship that can really make a difference to the outcome of his journey.

In the previous post I wrote:

We can certainly tell you what you could do in each situation that comes up, but that won’t give you the learning experience that leads to a deeper understanding of CRAFT and all it has to offer. It takes work and commitment on your part. But we strongly believe that it’s better if you actively learn the concepts and how to apply them for yourself. Creating your own plans, trying them out, and continually adjusting to the situation is what will help you become skilled with CRAFT.

I would encourage the same here. That way, in the moment when an opportunity to respond in a helpful way arises, you’ll be well prepared.

You’ll never regret learning CRAFT skills

By developing your CRAFT skills, you can be more helpful in your responses to your Loved One (LO). Focus on learning new skills that can result in improved outcomes.

Starting with Module 4: “How Do I Talk to My Loved One?” , I would encourage you to work actively to strengthen your communication skills. We are hoping you will arm yourself with knowledge and learning—and then practice, practice, practice. Watch the first video and do the exercise that comes along with it. Practice for a few weeks before moving on to the second video. Working your way through this communication module and strengthening those skills will support you if and when you have the sit-down conversation with your son about treatment.

When he’s ready for help, be ready with resources

Often our LOs engage in some form of treatment before there is a need to have that conversation. The one action you can take simultaneously with your work in Module 4 is to start researching and creating a list of treatment and support options for you LO. Having such a list will help prepare you for when you son expresses a “wish” or a “dip.” When one of those happens, you want to be ready with some well-thought-out options for him to consider. Ask yourself questions: What will his insurance cover? Are there any counselors in the area that might take his insurance? What are options that he would be willing to engage with at the start? What about meetings? Are there AA, Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or Wellbriety meetings nearby or online? Are there other types of activities that he has interests in that might help with his health and wellness?

The Allies in Recovery resource supplement page is a great place to begin your search. What’s most important, though, is to build up your communication skills so that when these options come up, he is more likely to say yes to them—or at least walk away and consider them.

For now, consider focusing on those communication skills.  Build on your relationship with your son so that your presence is a safe space for him to share. Think about having an ongoing conversation with him about his options, rather than just a single, over-and-done message at one point in time. And remember that change takes time, so be patient with yourself and your son.

Wishing the very best for you both. Please keep us updated on your progress.


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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"...)