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All Hands On Deck: Keeping Your Teen Sober is a Family Affair

There is a wide chasm between tough love and enabling, especially when it comes to teens and addiction. Parents often feel lost in a sea of uncertainty, going back and forth between punishing and coddling teenagers facing drug-related issues.

While there is no universal guide to raising teenagers, the last thing you want to feel is the never-ending heartache of losing a child to drugs or alcohol. With that in mind, practicing proactive parenting is not just a good idea – it’s essential. And that journey begins with education and understanding available options.

One of the Many Tools Available

The Center for Motivation and Change (CMC) in New York utilizes an intervention model called Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT).

CRAFT was pioneered by Dr. Robert Meyers who believed the tough love approach wasn’t working and needed “an overall positive approach that steers clear of any confrontation.”

According to the CMC, CRAFT teaches families behavioral and motivational strategies that provide the framework for a collaborative approach for interacting with their love ones. CRAFT focuses on the positive conditions in the family structure and gives the tools to help reduce the love one’s defensiveness so that he or she will be more receptive to treatment if that is the agreed upon solution.

“CRAFT is not a quick fix, but rather an approach that can benefit both the substance user and the family in the short and long terms with a holistic plan of action and a more optimistic view,” according to CMC.

Understanding (and Exercising) Your Options

Drs. Jeff Foote and Carrie Wilkins, co-founders of CMC, along with Dr. Nicole Kosanske, director of family services, published a book last year called Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help Change People.

The book’s purpose was to educate both consumers (families and loved ones) and treatment providers about all the modern treatment options available. The authors are clear that 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous – and treatment providers that build programs around AA – are viable options for many, but they are far from the only options offered.

The CRAFT approach to working with families of substance users has a 70 percent success rate, they say. What’s more, in clinical studies, 100 percent of participating family members reported feeling better post-treatment.

Despite the impressive numbers, there really is no one quick fix to overcoming addiction. It’s a process that must be taken day-by-day, but with the support of an entire family, your teenager’s chances of living a long and sober life increase by leaps and bounds.


Additional Reading: Proactive Parenting: Keeping Kids Safe from Addiction

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