“Beyond Addiction”: A Motivational Model for Change

We built our practice on optimism, not because it made us feel good, though it does, but because it works. The authors of Beyond Addiction

Kirkus Reviews recently called Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change (authored by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens, and Nicole Kosanke, with contributor Stephanie Higgs) one of this year’s “most overlooked books.”

As noted by Kirkus the authors “draw on 40 years of substantiated analysis and clinical research from their Manhattan-based Center for Motivation and Change, a collective recovery treatment program founded on the hopeful principle that ‘people get better.'”

Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) is the rehabilitation strategy the authors employ at their Center. Robert J. Meyers, PhD, lists five things to know about CRAFT (link to this now inactive, 2019):

1. CRAFT is a motivational model of help based on research that consistently finds motivational treatments to be superior to confrontational ones.

2. More than two-thirds of family members who use CRAFT successfully engage their substance using loved ones in treatment.

3. Evidence suggests that substance users who are pushed into treatment by a traditional confrontational intervention are more likely to relapse than clients who are encouraged into treatment with less confrontational means.

4. Family members who use CRAFT experience greater improvements in their emotional and physical health than do those who use confrontational methods to try to help their loved ones.

5. People who use CRAFT are more likely to see the process through to success than those who use confrontational methods.

Publishers Weekly summarizes how the authors present their material in Beyond Addiction:

Affirming that change can happen at any stage, that relapses and ambivalence are normal, and that the social environment is critical to individuals’ motivation for change, the authors teach self-care and skills for substantively engaging without enabling unwanted behavior: using ‘positive communication,’ offering reinforcement and rewards for constructive activities, and favoring natural consequences over punishment. This gentle, optimistic, and explanatory approach offers hope by giving family members outlets besides fighting, feeling stress, or idly waiting for motivation to happen. The book helpfully offers reminders that although no one can make another person change, there is much that can be done to make change seem appealing and possible.

Tom Hedrick, of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, says Beyond Addiction is “the most important new resource for the millions of families struggling with drug and alcohol problems, and all the hopelessness and helplessness that goes with it.” The three reasons he believes this? 1) The emphasis on science, 2) Rather than a “quick fix,” the book “provides a comprehensive, compassionate, and understandable plan,” and 3) Rather than advocating detaching, the authors’ strategy involves “applying the family’s natural kindness and positive reinforcement.”

Another expert in substance abuse disorders, A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, notes that all his knowledge wasn’t really of use when it came to his own family, and “(t)his book would have saved my family and me a lot of time, money, and most importantly pain. I intended to read this book as a professional courtesy and to offer editorial and perhaps scientific comments. Instead I found myself taking notes on every chapter and Xeroxing some of the handy tables. Two weeks after reading the book both my son and I are using these basic lessons and specific techniques today with my grand-kids.”

Anne Fletcher, author of Inside Rehab, (see previous post) appreciates its empowerment strategies. “I started to put its invaluable suggestions into practice immediately in my personal and professional life. If you’re at the end of your rope, this book will provide hope, help you get your life back on track, and greatly improve the odds that your loved one will seek help.”

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