It’s A Family Problem With Dr Robert Meyers

My guest on this episode of the podcast is Dr Robert Meyers who has been in the field of addiction for the last 39 years. His father was a heavy drinker and caused a lot of problems in his family home. This caused Dr Meyers to go on to create an intervention program that is now used worldwide to engage resistant substance users and encourage them to enter treatment. The program is called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) which focuses on the family recovery as a whole not just on the substance user.

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My mum died at 45 and I think partly due to the stress and anxiety caused by my father

Dr Robert Meyers

What I found interesting about my conversations with Dr Meyers what how this process actually works. In clinical trials, it has been proven to help loved ones with substance abuse issues enter treatment and stay there. With clients attending 9/12 session which is really high engagement.

The process is similar to Al-anon because it usually starts with a family member who goes to see a CRAFT counsellor. Together they work on issues with the family member or spouse and help them get stronger psychologically. The idea is the healthier the non-drinker the more able they are at helping the kids and other people in the family.

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They are not the bad person and they did not cause the problem

Dr Robert Meyers

This process creates a frame where the family non-drinker can say to the addict “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do” (which we all know they don’t anyway) but the idea is if you say that, it gets rid of a lot of the anxiety of coming to treatment. Because the drinker may currently think you’re going to take away their drugs, label them and judge them. In CRAFT they talk to the addict and help them the best they can; meeting the client where they are at and go at there pace.

This helps the family members show the addict they are addicted and move them from the denial stage into the possibility of recovery. You can help the substance user see the problems they have caused and are causing.

For example, let’s imagine you have a frog and put it in cold water and then raise the temperature of the water it won’t jump out because it does not notice the gradual rise in temperature. So you almost use the family members to let the addict (the frog) know what the temperature of the water is, so the non-drinker parent can protect the family and improve the environment.

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