A family-focused approach that supports families as they help a person get the treatment they need is proving to be successful, says a clinical psychologist at the provincial addiction treatment facility in Mount Herbert, P.E.I. 

CRAFT, an acronym for the approach of community reinforcement and family training was developed after it was found those people who were receiving treatment and who also had family support were more likely to succeed in treatment. 

"What makes it neat is CRAFT is kind of counterintuitive," said Greg Purvis, also the addictions team lead at the treatment facility in Mount Herbert. "Our go-to when it comes to addiction is kind of punishment or yelling or threatening or pleading or bargaining. None of those things tend to work. 

 "What we tend to be teaching folks is how do you reward the behaviour that you want." 

Purvis said this means making not using more rewarding in the home environment. 

Greg Purvis

Greg Purvis, a clinical psychologist and addictions team lead at the provincial addiction treatment facility in Mount Herbert, P.E.I. says having family support in addiction treatment is key. (Government of P.E.I./Facebook)

The next part is becoming neutral and withdrawing the rewards when an addict is using rather than turning to punishment.

"The last part is looking at when are the opportune times to suggest treatment and what are the motivational hooks to put treatment in place." 

Purvis said self-care is also important for family members. 

"Almost all the folks that we see are exceptionally frustrated when they come in to see us. Family members are bothered by people's use long before the person who is using is bothered by it." 

Wait and hope has changed

Purvis said before he was trained in CRAFT he would tell family members they'd have to wait until the person using wanted help but now seven out of 10 addicts go to treatment with the help of their families following this method. 

On P.E.I. there are more than 30 mental health and addiction staff trained in CRAFT and there are support groups all across the Island.

Purvis said there is a low drop-out rate from the group, which runs three to four times a year in eight-week sessions.

"I can tell you a story I heard last week from one of the group facilitators of the last CRAFT group and 100 per cent of the participants that stayed for the whole eight weeks got their loved ones into treatment."

Purvis said if a person wants to become involved in the program they can contact the provincial addiction treatment facility in Mount Herbert for more information. 

"The involvement of a family is crucial in the recovery for addictions," said Purvis, adding the two factors that help the most are meanigful family involvement and meaningful job involvement. 

With files from Island Morning