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New tool available to help your loved one overcome addiction

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • Addiction is a painful experience for everyone who’s touched but as Christina Dent writes, there is hope that needs to be shared.

With almost fifty million Americans struggling with a substance use disorder, thousands of Mississippi families find themselves trying to help their own loved ones find recovery. Caught between love, fear, and anger, most families have no idea how to respond. Through grant funding, a proven tool for families called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is now available to Mississippians at no cost through the organization Allies in Recovery. CRAFT has been studied extensively and has been proven to increase the likelihood that the person struggling with addiction will decrease their substance use as well as enter treatment. It also improves the quality of life for the family. 

I got a phone call from one of these family members because of my work advocating for health-centered approaches to drugs and addiction. The mother on the other end of the line told me how her beloved daughter left a privileged life and spiraled into heroin addiction. They tried nearly everything, from expensive treatment centers to leaving her in jail. The chaos got so bad that the family cut off all communication with their daughter. They’re not even sure if she’s still alive. Anger and grief streamed through the phone as I tried to put myself in this mother’s shoes and imagine walking this road with one of my own children. How incredibly painful. 

Dr. Dominique Simon-Levine is the founder of Allies in Recovery and was in Mississippi recently to spread the word that Mississippians have free access to their training and support groups through grant funding. She has deep compassion for family members like this mother. She captures the sense of helplessness that many of them feel as they try to figure out how to act, what to say, and what to do with their loved one whose addiction is wreaking havoc on the whole family unit. “Should I take the keys? Drive the car? Hide the car? It’s so confusing,” Dr. Simon-Levine says earnestly. The challenge is compounded by the fact that the vast majority of people who have a substance use disorder don’t believe they have one. And many people who realize they have a problem are still not willing to get help for it. CRAFT was built for families whose loved ones don’t want help. It helps families take what feels like an impossible problem and engage with tools that offer the best chance of solving it. “It teaches how to respond in the moment to a loved one struggling with addiction in a way that greatly improves family engagement and gets them the care they need,” says Dr. Simon-Levine. 

To make CRAFT skills and support accessible, Allies in Recovery offers all of the training modules, skills practice groups, and support groups online. Families learn how to identify patterns of addiction, how to determine if their loved one is using or not, how to communicate and listen effectively, and how to reward or remove rewards based on their loved one’s behavior. CRAFT is not hard to learn, says Dr. Simon-Levine, but it takes commitment to implement. Changing our patterns of communication and engagement isn’t easy. But the rewards are great and the alternatives are bleak. With the underground drug market’s toxicity at an all-time high because of fentanyl contamination, many families are desperate for anything that could save their loved one’s life. Others are desperate to end the vortex of chaos they’ve been pulled into. 

Some of these families find support through established groups such as Al-Anon, but most groups help families disconnect from their loved one’s addiction and focus on their own health. That’s important, but personal health is only one component. CRAFT teaches families how to stay healthy as well as engage with their loved ones. The choice isn’t between sitting on the sidelines or getting sucked into the chaos. CRAFT offers a proven third way. I hope that in ten more years, there will be CRAFT support group meetings in towns and cities across the state, providing families a place to learn CRAFT skills and then be encouraged as they do the hard work of engaging with their loved one in the most healing way they can. 

No matter what, addiction is a painful experience for everyone who’s touched. Nothing about it is easy and there are no silver bullets and no guarantees of recovery. But today, every Mississippian has the opportunity to go to www.alliesinrecovery.net, click on Sponsored Membership, put your zip code in as the promotional code, and receive free training and support to implement the most effective method we know of to stay healthy and help your loved one overcome addiction. That’s hope that needs to be shared. 

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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