Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

I Want to Message Her Friends

smart phone Texting
Our Allies member recently realized that their teenaged daughter is using a variety of substances. The parents’ instinct is to want to find a way to control or monitor her use. They’re tempted, as well, to get in touch with their daughter’s using friends to address the substance use. She finds CRAFT is helping, but it’s really hard to focus or function right now.

This post originally appeared on our Member Site blog, where experts respond to members’ questions and concerns. To take advantage of our current special offer and get full access to the Allies in Recovery eLearning program for families, click here.

Hi all,
We just found out that our 16 yr old daughter had been experimenting, and most likely already addicted, to alcohol and some drug early in April. She had previously been at a therapeutic boarding school (TBS) for almost 1 1/2y, and just returned home last Dec 2018. We had no idea how bad her use had become in last 4 months.

She thinks she can handle “occasional use”, including regular weekend parties with alcohol/marijuana with her friends. Even her therapist, with whom she works well, says it is “within normal” to have weekend use. We know she still hangs with friends who supplied drugs to her and also drink together. She says she had already told them she wouldn’t use drugs again, but her phone messages (I check sometimes) suggest otherwise.

How can we monitor/control her use when her high school environment is so permissive? I also want to send messages directly to her friends who supplied/used drugs with her in the past asking them not to provide her drugs. Do you advise against this move?

Welcome to the Allies in Recovery community!

We are so glad you found us, and that you are here! In terms of the specific questions you posed, here are some helpful guidelines to consider.

The Learning Modules (available on our member site. View our Introduction here) give a great foundation for the CRAFT approach in general. In going through the modules, you have likely seen that there are two main goals for the family member to focus on. 1) Improving your relationship with your loved one and 2) Getting them into treatment.

A lot of this happens by shifting your own behaviors

At the foundation of this approach is an acknowledgement that, maddening as this may sometimes be, we can’t control our loved ones. We also can’t make decisions for them, nor can we force them to do what we want them to do. What we can do is bring awareness to our own role in the relationship: stopping the negative talk; embracing an attitude of compassion, empathy, and partnership; building the bridge.

We can own our actions candidly in an attempt to genuinely work on repairing the relationship. If we have been nagging or critical in the past, for example, we can take responsibility for that. This is also modeling the kind of responsibility we want our loved ones to learn to take for their own actions. At 16, your daughter is in some ways just embarking on the journey of learning this kind of responsibility.

Anything you can do to soften communications can be seen as advancing the goal of building that bridge which will eventually lead to your loved one opening up to you. Anything that contributes to our loved ones wanting to tune out, feel defensive, shut down, etc. would be seen as running counter to that goal. This take a lot of patience, and practice. It’s straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Remember your own well-being

I hear the fear and desperation in your account, and as you said, you are all shaken up. Feeling like it’s hard to think straight, or hard to function in your life right now, is an important sign to pay attention to. These signs indicate that it’s going to be very hard to change patterns in your own communications, improve your relationship with your daughter, or be a compassionate listener until you take some time to regroup and replenish your energies.

From our perspective, your health and well-being are equally vital parts of the equation to your loved one’s health and well-being. This may mean different things for different people, but it’s worth investigating what you need in order to feel peaceful – regardless of what is happening externally. We’d recommend exploring Learning Module 7 (view an excerpt here) for help when negative thinking is taking over.

It takes time

You stated that your daughter is experimenting, and most likely already addicted to, drugs. She has been partying hard since returning home from the boarding school. She wants to have a “normal high school life.” Time will tell if she is able to moderate her own use, or if her relationship with these substances becomes more dysfunctional. If she has expressed that she doesn’t want to use drugs any more, except weekend drinking and pot-smoking, she already has some awareness of what is working for her and what isn’t. She may have been scared off the harder drugs after that trip.

You know that any substance use at her age comes with its own specific set of dangers, and what she is calling “normal” may be anything but… But though your viewpoints clearly differ here, you have had conversations about it and this in itself is a good sign. There is so much more communication that can happen around this. Her talking with you about any of the use, especially any changes she wants to make, can at least be taken as a small piece of encouragement

Controlling her won’t work

Getting a loved one into treatment is a goal when there is a Substance Use Disorder. Whether she has an active addiction right now or not, the goal is not to control a loved one’s use, or punish them for using. Your guidelines for what is allowed in your home are something you can control. In terms of your question about controlling/ monitoring her use, we would counsel against this in general.

Using the CRAFT principles, instead we would suggest that you create a new environment around her use. This is well outlined in Learning Modules 5 & 6 (available to our members). When you catch her sober, step in with rewards. When she is actively using, step back. This isn’t the same as punishment. It’s a neutral stance, a removal of yourself and the rewards. It is a pattern that over time becomes a substantial message.

The considerations for a teenager and substance use are many. From a neurological perspective, parts of their brains are still in the process of development. This includes areas involved with planning, decision making, personality and “higher reasoning” The legal implications of their choices are weighty. There are many other dangers associated with use of illegal drugs…and you are aware of all of these complexities and more. It is safe to say that your daughter’s awareness of these factors is a bit less than yours.

We provide information specific to teens and substance use on our site in the Resource Supplement.

Finding positive alternatives

A very useful approach for teenagers who are using marijuana is Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach or ACRA (this is the parent approach of CRAFT, it represents the CRA in our CRAFT). The main thrust of this approach is for the young person to reduce the marijuana use while finding other “community reinforcements” that compete with use and provide alternative natural highs. These reinforcements could include a sport, a young peoples’ church group, or different forms of exercise. The idea holds true for adults as well, though young people are typically more easily overwhelmed and need extra support to find and engage in these more positive alternatives.

Building the bridge

Figure out what boundaries work for your household (and holding to them). Explore what support options you can offer her beyond the therapy. This can go a long way while you have the advantage of living under the same roof. The support options that works best for her may not be the first or even second ones you find. You’ll have to be creative and open in the process of finding ways to expand her access to community support, as you strive to create the safest and most loving environment you can for her at home.

In the end, you want her to open up to you if she feels she needs help, or if she isn’t happy with the way things are going in there life. She is going to feel more comfortable doing this if you create an environment in which it feels safe and comfortable to talk openly. Adolescents can be notoriously reluctant to communicate openly in general, so this environment needs to be created with plenty of patience and compassion. A flower blooms in its own time. When it blooms, it is a miraculous thing of beauty. But forcing the bloom open isn’t an option. This has to be her own process.

Her boundaries should be respected as well

In terms of reaching out to her friends, dealers, etc. or checking her messages in general, as you say, this would be a violation of boundaries and she would be furious with you. As much as you want to intervene, this kind of action would just drive a wedge further between you. It would not strengthen your relationship. Trust would be broken, and it would take a long time to repair. In this way, it would have the opposite outcome from what we are seeking with CRAFT, which is improving your connection with your loved one.

Seeing things with new eyes

So we’d suggest diving into the modules – you may find that watching them over and over is called for sometimes. This is what they’re there for. You can practice some of the new communication skills throughout the day – not just with your daughter. Take care of yourself and find ways to reel in your mind. Let yourself rest from the fears and projections about the future.

Each day is new; each moment a new opportunity to cultivate more awareness and a better relationship with your daughter. We have resources and support here to help you through should things escalate. But for now, know that it will take at least a few weeks to implement the CRAFT approach, perhaps even a few months. So lean on the community here and try to work on seeing things with new eyes. As you get to know the learning modules more, you’ll find ways to shift things little by little. These shifts will slowly change the shape of your environment and your relationships. Be patient with yourself. We know things can improve. We are here for you.

Since 2003, Allies in Recovery has addressed substance abuse in families by providing a method for the family to change the conversation about addiction. We use Community Reinforcement & Family Training (CRAFT), a proven approach that helps the family unblock and advance the relationship towards sobriety and recovery and to engage a loved one into treatment. Learn about member benefits by following this link.

image © TeroVesalainen via pixabay

Loading

Related Posts from "CRAFT"

Trusting A Loved One in Early Recovery

Her husband is in early recovery, but he doesn’t want to share details with her. She’s nervous and struggling with trust due to his history of SUD and lying. She’s reluctant to let him come home, and unsure how to talk to him about it. Dominique weighs in with an idea of what to say based on the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) approach that we use at AlliesinRecovery.net.

How CRAFT Can Help: Supporting Your Partner to Successfully Moderate Opiate Use

His partner is trying to moderate her use of heroin and methamphetamine with no formal support. Her use consumes so much of his partner’s life that it’s hard to see her “moderation” as progress. But his loved one wants him to acknowledge how “well” she’s doing, and there hasn’t been room for more discussion. Read on for suggested strategies from AlliesinRecovery.net to engage his partner into treatment, using the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) approach.

How to Use the CRAFT Approach to Communicate with a Loved One Living with Substance Use Disorder

Substance Use Disorder can often involve volatile emotions on all sides. When family members use the CRAFT approach that we teach at AlliesinRecovery.net, it can help disentangle emotions from practicalities, leading to greater calm and more effective outcomes. This mom recently had an exchange with her son who is struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), but held back from responding in fear it would end in a heated argument. So, she to turned to Allies for guidance. Read on for some pointers on how best to communicate with a loved one in active addiction using the CRAFT approach.

He’s on Suboxone and Hiding Away for Most of the Day. We are Worried.

Her son was using heroin, and he just got out of jail. He reached out for mom’s help and asked to live at home as he starts recovery, and he is getting MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), specifically Suboxone. But he’s secluding himself so much at home she can’t tell what he’s up to. He’s accessing counseling and groups remotely, but he stays holed up in his room all the time and rarely emerges. Mom worries about his isolating so much and whether he might be using. We weigh in with some thoughts about the varied aspects of early recovery, and with some reminders about practicing CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training.)

Real Allies in Recovery Success Stories: Families Share How CRAFT Helped Their Loved Ones with SUD

Read real success stories from families who used the CRAFT approach to help their loved ones with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Learn how CRAFT helped them engage their loved ones into treatment, and how it improved their relationships and reduced stress levels. Discover how you can use the CRAFT method to help your loved ones find recovery, and visit AlliesinRecovery.net for more stories and resources.

How Do I Prepare for My Daughter with SUD to Come Home? And What About Her Boyfriend?

Her daughter is involved with a man who may be sabotaging her efforts to stop using substances. But she’s expressed some readiness to get help, and mom wants to support her in any way that she can. Mom’s working on ignoring the bad-news boyfriend while setting up guidelines for her return home. She needs guidance on the details…Allies in Recovery weighs in with some CRAFT-based tips.

Her Partner is Not Improving from Substance Use Disorder. Is There an Underlying Mental Health Condition?

One of our AlliesinRecovery.net members as been artfully following the CRAFT principles and yet her loved one is not showing signs of improvement. Engaging in extreme behavior, barely ever sleeping, misusing his ADHD medication, lying, and now, stealing… Is it all on the addiction or could her partner suffer from an underlying, undiagnosed and untreated mental health condition?

Shall We Dance?

CRAFT as choreography? Our hosts step into the metaphor of a dance with your loved one. This isn’t a traditional dance – it’s a look at the steps to see what works and what doesn’t, to CRAFT a new dance and change your role. The idea is to learn new tools, practice them, and see where they fit in. Be patient. It’s a process.

The Important Difference Between Bribes, Incentives, and Positive Reinforcement

A mom wrote in asking for guidance on whether she should offer to reward her son for attending addiction recovery group meetings. However, she is unsure if she’s implementing the CRAFT concept of “rewards” correctly. Laurie MacDougall, an Allies in Recovery virtual program trainer – who herself has a loved one with SUD – explains the important differences between bribes, incentives, and positive reinforcement. Laurie advises steering away from the first two and sticking with positive reinforcement instead.

“He Wants Us to Live Together, but He’s Drinking” – What to Say, and When?

Her boyfriend texted her about his desire to move in together; 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 what we, at Allies in Recovery, call a “wish” – an important moment of “change talk,” an opening for you to step in and suggest recovery options. It can be a key part of implementing the CRAFT skills we teach at Allies. So, what can she do now?

Now He’s Abusing His ADHD Medication. What to do?

Her long-time partner added a new drug to the usual mix of cannabis and alcohol: now he’s got a prescription for ADHD meds and is blowing through a month’s supply in 5 days. He blames all his negative behaviors on his underlying depression. How can she be helpful to her partner, without playing into his victim mentality? She feels like she might want to give up on his recovery and ask him to move out…but we have some great CRAFT-informed tips for strategies she can try first.

His Early Recovery Is Triggering Me

Her loved one has been abstinent from substance use for weeks. With steady recovery inputs, including a medication, he is doing better. However, he recently adopted a deeply confrontational stance and has shifted to some alternative addictive behaviors. Our AlliesinRecovery.net member, feeling hurt and lost, wonders how to address these new challenges. Laurie MacDougall uses some examples from her son’s recovery journey to help paint a picture of more successful interactions that can let some of the tension out of the situation. Read this blog post for some CRAFT-informed ways to handle triggers, boundaries, and power struggles.

She’s Using Again and Gone Missing.

A worried mom wrote in to share news of her daughter’s recurrence after 6 months of recovery from AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder). To complicate matters, the daughter had been off on a binge and out of touch for a week. Obviously, this kind of situation is never easy for a worried parent, family member, or significant other. The mom is using our eLearning Modules to remind herself of important CRAFT principles. We weigh in with some supportive reminders about resilience – hers and her daughter’s – and the reminder that recovery is never a straight line or an on-off switch; we call it the “spiral of recovery.”  

My Son is Using Again. Should I Confront Him?

When you are trying your best to work with a family member in recovery from Substance Use Disorder (SUD), it can be frightening and disappointing to discover they are using again. What to do? One of our AlliesinRecovery.net members wrote in about her son having a recurrence of use, and she wonders whether she should confront him or not. She feels she can’t bear the emotional rollercoaster of her son’s recovery journey. We weigh in with some reminders from the CRAFT approach about how to manage her own thoughts, feelings, and reactions. We suggest she stay the course and not confront him – at least not yet.

How Can We Help our Daughter Find Residential Treatment?

What her daughter needs—a solid residential treatment program for women—should not be so hard to find. Unfortunately, such programs often are. We sorted through some of the options in the state where this Allies in Recovery member lives, so she can focus her search on a program most likely to help her daughter continue to improve. The family can also keep doing CRAFT to help support the relationship with their daughter in recovery, and to take care of themselves in the process. Staying in touch with Allies staff can also help support them.

“Heads Up” Tips for Those New to SUD

Have you ever looked back on a particularly stressful time in your life and wished you’d known a few things ahead of the struggle? Or maybe you were offered some “heads up” advice when enduring a hard time and found that the advice you received drastically empowered you through the situation. This blog shares some helpful tips for parents and other family members who are new to facing the crisis of addiction, alcoholism or Substance Use Disorder (referred to as “SUD”) with a loved one.

Did I Do CRAFT Wrong and Trigger Him to Drink?

She thought her husband was drinking, so she left. He called and said he wasn’t drinking, so she came home, but by then he’d gone out and he did drink. This wife feels she inadvertently triggered her husband to go drink. Did she? She also feels like she messed everything up with one episode of removing rewards. Did she really? The CRAFT approach has us “remove rewards,” including removing ourselves, when our loved one is using substances. CRAFT also asks you to make numerous split-second decisions every day. You’re going to get it wrong sometimes.  In the post below, we walk through this scenario with some CRAFT ABC’s.

3 Months into Recovery and He Doesn’t Show an Ounce of Gratitude

This mom has been able to successfully use CRAFT principles to shepherd her son into treatment and to support him during early recovery. However, her son’s lack of gratitude is beginning to feel unbearable. AlliesinRecovery.net Director Dominique Simon-Levine weighs in with a reminder to practice communications skills, and to take care of yourself – all part of the CRAFT curriculum at Allies.