The Science Behind Sober Families

CRAFT and other evidence-based techniques have been shown in numerous clinical trials to help families deal with an addicted family member. Below, we explain what CRAFT is and how the science behind it inspired the Sober Families online program.

What is CRAFT?

CRAFT stands for Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training. That’s a mouthful, and so we say CRAFT for short. The CRAFT approach is a system for helping family members change the way that they interact with loved one who is a drug user or someone is drinking too much. The aim of CRAFT is to help that person get into treatment and on the road to recovery from drugs and alcohol.

Family members know a great deal about their alcohol or drug using family member. However, they often don’t know what to do with all that information to be helpful. That’s where CRAFT comes in. CRAFT provides a comprehensive strategy for how to interact with drinking and drugging family members in a way that has been shown to work to get their loved into treatment and to get their life back from addiction. CRAFT also helps family members improve their own lives, whether their loved one ends up seeking treatment or not.

CRAFT is usually delivered over the course of approximately 12 weekly face-to-face sessions with a trained therapist, who teaches the person techniques that they can use at home with their drinking or drug using loved one. We’ve taken the same techniques and created an online program that allows people access to these proven, tailored techniques and a place to get support from a community of people who are in a similar situation.

Does CRAFT work?

CRAFT is what we call an “evidence-based therapy,” meaning that it has been proven to be effective in controlled clinical studies. The earliest research goes back about 30 years, so several decades of evidence has accumulated to show that CRAFT can teach family members how to engage their loved one in treatment in an effective, non-confrontative manner, and also improve their own life in the process.

“Randomized Controlled Trials” (RCTs) are the gold standard way of evaluating whether a treatment is effective. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either the treatment in question, no treatment, a comparison treatment, or in some cases a placebo (i.e., a false but convincing).  By comparing differences between groups we can confidently assess whether the real treatment really works, and confirm that any improvements are not due to chance or some other external factor such as the time of year or people simply expecting to get better. CRAFT has been evaluated in six RCTs with hundreds of people and has repeatedly shown that about 70% of families are able to get their loved one into treatment after learning CRAFT. CRAFT has been shown to work across all drugs of abuse and for alcohol. Research shows it works for parents, for spouses, and for children who’s parents are drinking and using. CRAFT has also been shown to improve family relationships and reduce conflict, even if the family member doesn’t get into treatment. CRAFT also has been shown to help the family member to be healthier, less stressed, and less depressed and anxious.

Does Sober Families Work?

The Sober Families team is committed to an evidence-based model, so our website and training materials will be updated as new data come in. We are also focused on evaluating the effectiveness of what we are offering. We are currently in the startup phase, so we don’t yet have any data that is specific to how our website works. However, we do know from one study that family members who study CRAFT in a self-directed format still get better results than comparison approaches. These results suggest that people who dissipate in our online support, should get even better results than the people in a self-directed format.

We will continue to evaluate Sober Families over time, but wanted to start to get CRAFT out there to more people. Our goal is to help tens of thousands of families in the next few years. We are producing new materials and information all the time. We’d love your feedback and input and need to learn from you about what works and what doesn’t. Please interact with us and let us know what you think.