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.

Are You Willing to Change?


change addiction family intervention craft allies in recovery
Illustration: Eleanor Davis


Why should I change?

The authors of Beyond Addiction,* a guide for families of addicted loved ones, give us the following advice in the introduction of their book:

“Be yourself, but be as willing to change as you want your loved one to be.”

Reading this phrase may very well feel like a slap in the face. Or, it might feel like the most exhausting idea you’ve heard in a while. Or perhaps it speaks to you, rings true, makes you wonder.

While perhaps not a revolutionary concept, their suggestion strikes me as being full of common sense and wisdom.

Is it fair for us to expect – or even demand – that our loved one make significant changes to many parts of their life while we sit on a perch of certitude?

Has our struggle with our loved one’s addiction made us cling too tightly to what we think we know, and how we think we need to act?

Has black-and-white thinking become too prevalent? Our loved one and their troublesome behaviors is pushed over to one end of the spectrum (that which needs to change). On the other hand, we – consciously or not – position ourselves on the opposite end. We feel dependable, responsible, not addicted, and therefore not in need of change.

It could prove interesting to observe our initial reaction when someone suggests that we, too, may have things to work on or change. Feelings of defensiveness or denial might bubble up. This may help us to consider how our loved one might feel when we insist (sometimes day after day) that they’d better hurry up and change.

Nobody’s perfect

We’re all familiar with this phrase, but what’s actually hiding behind it? Is perfection the goal, even though, according to this saying, nobody’s ever gonna get there? Or is perfection just more black-and-white thinking?

When we really think about it, perfection does not exist in the human realm. In fact, it’s well known that much of what we learn, and what forges us into who we are, comes from our making mistakes. And life’s lessons are learned so much better when we open ourselves to really looking at what it is we did that got us in this fix.

Owning our weaknesses can truly be a strength

I may not have an addiction problem. Nor am I  flailing around like a lost soul. I might not be causing everyone who loves me to worry . BUT, I may very well have areas of my life to which I can bring more honesty and openness, in order to embrace the change that I need. Because the change that I need is not the same as the change my loved one needs. Making that distinction is important. So much of our energy tends to be spent on what our loved one needs to change.

But what about you? Can these trying times with your loved one actually shed light on what you need the most? Is it possible for you step back a bit and redirect some of your focus from your loved one to yourself? Can you see willingness to change as a gift you can give to yourself, and your loved one?

What change are you willing to make?

Perhaps the change you need relates to how you communicate. Your usual ways might be getting old, you might feel the need to infuse your speech and attitude with more positivity or optimism. Perhaps it’s about to how you care for yourself. Could paying more attention to your body and spirit relieve some of the tension at home? Or perhaps it has something to do with letting go. Whether it’s guilt, shame, or the illusion of control, we so often hold on to things that are actually sinking us. Lightening that load by confiding in someone we trust, and practicing letting go of what we cannot change in others, can do us so much good.

As Foote, Wilkens and Kosank encapsulate so well in the above citation, our role as the family member of a struggling loved one is not limited to doing things for them. What we do for our own well-being (physical, mental, spiritual … ) will create a ripple effect that brings relief and much needed change, within us and all around us.

A membership at Allies in Recovery brings you into contact with experts in the fields of recovery and treatment for drug and alcohol issues. Our learning platform introduces you to CRAFT and guides you through the best techniques for unblocking the situation. Together we will move your loved one towards recovery. Learn more here.

*Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D, Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D, & Nicole Kosank, Ph.D  ‘Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change’


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

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 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, 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 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 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.