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My Son Is A Lot More Than Just His Drinking Problem

young man sitting by lake

Member Connie W isn’t downplaying her son’s struggle with alcohol. But she also isn’t letting that struggle blind her to his wonderful qualities. With such a positive outlook, she’s in a great position to start learning and applying CRAFT.

Good afternoon Laurie. First let me thank you for all you do for this community. I had goosebumps when I heard your story. Your Tommy has so many similarities to my son (my son suffers from alcoholism and is in AA). My son too had some anxiety and depression (not diagnosed until a trip to CPEP after a drunken episode). He also suffered a tremendous heartbreak when his girlfriend left him (and my son had also developed a close relationship her 2-year-old son). I truly believe he suffers from some PTSD, as his older sister moved across the country at about the same time the breakup happened.

Our son was a senior in high school in 2014 when the heavy drinking began. We have been through incarcerations, hospital admittances, rehab—one time—and most recently, relapses. He is an amazing 26-year-old, very motivated, had a great job, is a volunteer fireman in our town and just an all-around sweet guy…although very quiet, socially awkward and reserved when sober (he’s completely the opposite when drinking). He lives at home with me and his dad, my husband. I am a very grateful member of Al-Anon but my husband does have a program. We have established roles in relation to how we manage our son’s relapses. I tend to detach. My husband is the rescuer (he is also a former problem drinker) and we have assumed these roles our whole “living with addiction” lives.

I am so excited to learn more about the CRAFT method and have learned so much from the Air Podcast already. I appreciate you and Annie and Dominque so very much, and again, thank you for all you are doing for moms who love their sons who suffer from addiction.

Hi Connie W,

Such a beautiful post about your son. Your love for him really comes through. I can feel the warmth and empathy for the difficulties he has endured and the appreciation for the wonderful parts of who he is. Often times, our Loved Ones (LOs) are almost exclusively seen as their illness (I totally understand how that happens; it can be so difficult to see the positive in the midst of so much chaos). That you recognize that he is not solely his difficulties is a great foundation to start working with the CRAFT methodology.

The roles we play

Your description of the roles you and your husband have taken on in relation to your son’s recurrences is very familiar. I tended to be the person who had expectations and was more likely to “stand my ground” with my son, while my husband struggled with having any boundaries at all. Having worked with many families throughout the years, I have observed that roles at opposite extremes naturally tend to unfold within the family unit. It doesn’t have to be Mom and Dad either. It could be Mom and a sibling, Grandma and Mom, spouse and Mom, etc. I had a discussion with a clinician who explained that often times, without even being aware of it, we naturally gravitate towards one stance or another to offset what the other person is doing. If my husband is being too rigid in my view, I might try to compensate by being softer in my approach, and vice-versa.

That same clinician told me that working towards bringing both people closer to being on the same page in how they interact with their LO lessens any confusing or conflicting messages and reduces the ability of the LO to split and manipulate family members. Utilizing CRAFT skills and strategies naturally encourages family members to become more aligned in their approach.

CRAFT is a positive way forward (but not necessarily an easy one)

Learning CRAFT communication and interactive skills encourages all parties to take a neutral, compassionate, and understanding approach, together as one. Which does not mean just having a flowery conversation or letting the LO dominate what is happening. On the contrary, it means having difficult conversations, expressing feelings, and holding to your own boundaries in the face of extremely difficult behaviors and words.

This is not an easy thing to do. In fact, I have found it to be incredibly difficult. It took multiple attempts, lots of discussions, and accepting that we were not really good at it. I would say it’s an ongoing learning process, even now, with my husband and myself!

I would encourage you and your husband to dig into CRAFT. It has been our saving grace. It was difficult to grasp when I first stumbled upon the Allies website, but really, it has changed how I interact with everyone in my life, not just my son. I am better because of it.

Please keep us updated on how things go. It warms my heart that the podcast is doing some good. Thank you so much for sharing how it impacts you.



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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"...)