Help me to resent less, help more.
February 11, 2007 6:44 AM   Subscribe

How do you forgive or let go of resentment toward a family member who’s an addict? Also, how do you determine how much of your behavior toward them is reasonable, and how much is just spiteful?

My apologies in advance for the lengthiness of this post – I just want to provide all the details so that anyone kind enough to respond has enough information to provide a relevant suggestion.

I’m looking for constructive advice on how to move past the growing resentment I feel toward my in-laws. My father-in-law is addicted to several drugs, including prescription painkillers, and, most alarmingly, crack cocaine. My mother-in-law is the classic enabler and will clearly do anything to cover up her husband’s drug abuse.

The drug addiction isn’t something my father-in-law has battled all his life, although he has long suffered from various mental illnesses including depression and bipolar disorder. He was previously employed as an executive for several big companies, but his last two jobs he sort of dropped out – basically he just stopped going after having a couple of nervous breakdowns. The drug use started about four years ago and has gradually escalated to its current state.

Shortly before my son was born 3 months ago, he assured my husband and me that he was done with the drugs, and in fact said he was looking forward to being a positive role model and good grandfather to our baby. However, after just a few days of being clean, he went right back to using. He was smoking the drug in their home, disappearing for a couple of days at a time, acquiring random injuries (such as black eyes, etc) that we can only guess were inflicted by a drug dealer, and other problematic behavior.

My mother-in-law has been incredibly difficult to deal with through this as well. She wavers between “subtle” requests for help, such as asking her sons (aged 28, 25 and 22, respectively) if they know of any good divorce lawyers, but doesn’t follow through with seeking one out. She claims she’s threatened her husband with leaving him if he doesn’t get clean, yet every time he takes the tiniest step toward recovery, or just behaves for a couple of days, she forgives him and assures everyone that everything is going to be okay. She’s taken away his cell phone and car keys for short periods of time, but inevitably gives them back, along with hundreds of dollars of cash to use as he pleases (since their assets are “half his”). She’s lied to my husband and me, by assuring us my father-in-law wouldn’t be home when she was babysitting our son once, then letting him in and not telling us. She tried to cover it up when my father-in-law tried to empty their youngest son’s bank account. We can’t get a straight answer out of her about anything, and every offer of help we’ve given her has been ignored.

My resentment toward both of them is becoming pretty insurmountable. I’m angry at him for developing a crack addiction at the age of 45+, for not working for the past four years, for blowing his family’s financial security, for destroying the trust and respect of his sons, and for putting drugs before his grandchild. I’m angry at her for being wishy-washy and because I can’t count on her to be truthful about her husband’s condition, which means I feel I can’t trust her with my child. And, selfishly, I’m angry that I have to deal with any of this. I know addiction is a reality for many families, and others have it way worse than I do. I just am having an extremely difficult time dealing with this and I find myself biting my tongue whenever I see them. Any advice regarding either specific behaviors I could adopt, or attitude adjustments I could attempt, would be really helpful.

In addition, I’m trying to determine whether my cautiousness toward the situation is justified and reasonable, or if I’m just being spiteful and trying to punish my in-laws. Right now, my father-in-law is not permitted to see the baby in any capacity unless he’s clean (obviously), and we aren’t leaving our son at their home for any reason without us present. If we go over for a family event and my husband or I suspect he may have been recently using drugs, our plan is to leave immediately. We do currently leave our son in my mother-in-law’s care at our home (begrudgingly on my part, since we don’t have many babysitting options), but we don’t allow my father-in-law to come over with her. My husband has also made it clear that, if his father doesn’t get his act together, he won’t be able to be part of our child’s life, ever. I know a lot of these precautions are for our son’s safety – which, obviously, is our first priority. However, I suspect some of it may just be punitive on our part, and I don’t know if that’s right.

Thanks so much for reading this far, and for any suggestions you can give.
posted by justonegirl to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Primary recommendation: Don't feel guilty about putting your baby's safety first. (It doesn't matter if you think you might be holding a grudge or whatever. The drug use/potential danger far outweighs any mindgames you *might* be playing with yourself.)

Secondary recommendation: Find alternative care for your son so that you don't have to feel like you HAVE to rely on the mother-in-law.

Yes, your cautiousness is entirely reasonable. It's your son and you get to decide what's best for him. That obviously includes keeping crack addicts away from him. If the family doesn't like it - well, tough shit.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:06 AM on February 11, 2007

Yikes. What a terrible situation.

You might find something like AlAnon helpful.

FWIW, I think that both your anger and your cautiousness regarding your son are completely justified.
posted by amarynth at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2007

1. I am not a huge fan of the organization, but I highly suggest you and your husband go to a local al-anon meeting. (Not AA, al-alon is for friends or relatives of addicts.) A good group might help you develop a way to deal with this situation that doesn't produce a lot of resentment. At the very least, you'll realize you aren't alone.

2. The boundaries you are setting between your baby and your father-in-law seem completely reasonable. They are a bit punitive, but that's good. His actions produces consequences. That's not your fault. It's his.
posted by milarepa at 7:12 AM on February 11, 2007

One of my closest family members was an addict for several years, and I definitely understand the anger and resentment you're feeling. I think the biggest issues here are:

1. Your mother-in-law. If possible, you guys need to get her to an al-anon meeting as soon as possible so she can understand that what she's doing isn't helping the situation. Visiting a therapist would also undoubtedly help her. Also, if you don't want the possibility of her letting your father-in-law come in the house when she's babysitting, find a new babysitter. Tell her why you're doing it, too.
2. Your father-in law: Can you talk to him? If so, try to get him into a rehab program, and preferrably one with a lot of psychiatric help. It sounds like his drug use started after some pretty severe mental episodes, and that needs to be addressed.
3. Your anger: this is the hard part. Alanon might be useful for you as well - just hearing about other people going through the same issues with their loved ones may help a lot.
posted by sluggo at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2007

I'd look for other baby sitting options. The less you have to do with your drug addicted and enabling in-laws, the better, for your own mental health and the safety of your child. You cannot trust your mother-in-law to protect your child from her husband. Read that out loud. She will let him in if he comes to the door. She will drop everything if he calls for her. And you can't do anything to stop it.

If your husband wants to maintain a relationship with them, that's his choice, but there seems no reason you should have to suffer through the worry they cause you. It's his cross to carry, and your job is to support him as he deals with it.

Sorry you're going through this. Good luck.
posted by Scram at 7:15 AM on February 11, 2007

I agree with the statements made that you should NOT trust your Mother-in-law, find other day care at all costs. Her behavior as unhealthy as her husbands.

You have every right to be angry at his lies and his endangering the health, well being and financial stability of everyone in the family, and her enabling behavior. An appropriate response would be to deny any contact with your child until there is a prolonged period of being clean coupled with documented therapy and/or rehab. Without that it's just another trip around the track.

Good for you for prioritizing your child. Be strong.
posted by HuronBob at 7:43 AM on February 11, 2007

You know the facts. Your dad is a drug user. Your mom is an enabler.
Pretend that your parents are no longer alive and determine what you would do about a baby sitter. You would work it out , someway.
Grandparents are not automatic baby sitters. You are fighting a losing battle trying to keep grandpa out of the picture.
Don't let grandma be a sitter. Maybe the lack of having her grandson be with her will make her face the music. She just can't make herself do the right thing and leave him to his drugs.
You should worry about your husband and baby and yourself. You come first. And you should stop thinking you have no alternatives. You do. Just do it.
posted by JayRwv at 7:50 AM on February 11, 2007

Let me take a different tack to most of the previous posters.

Your father-in-law isn't just some hedonistic dope fiend. He's suffering from what the addictions field terms a 'dual diagnosis'. Recent studies have suggested that as high many as 50% of people with serious mental health problems suffer from a dual diagnosis.

This usually happens in one of two ways: either someone develops a mental illness arising out of their substance misuse, or as in your father-in-law's case, the substance misuse may occur as a consequence of their psychiatric illness. When this happens, the substance misuse is generally a strategy for allieviating the negative symptoms of their psychiatric illness.

Unfortunately, because of the mental illness issues, recovery in dual diagnosis cases is often extremely difficult and protracted. Memory problems, confusion, and a lack of insight into their condition or the situation they are causing makes it hard to motivate such people towards change.

A couple of thoughts:

Resentment is unreasonable. Your father-in-law is no more choosing his condition than somebody is choosing a broken leg.

You need to do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family. However, one of the most important factors in predicting who will and who won't recover is the existance of an extended support network such as loving family.

More info here
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Resentment is unreasonable. Your father-in-law is no more choosing his condition than somebody is choosing a broken leg.

True. HOWEVER, I find myself completely resentful of things I have absolutely no control or part of all the time. Being resentful seems to be a by-product of life just isn't fair. So, while being resentful may be unreasonable it should be expected in this situation. Resent away!

And it is true that your FIL may not be choosing his ailments, but at the same time he's not getting the help that is out there. Kinda like someone doesn't choose to break a leg, but they do get to choose if they will get it fixed or not.

My family has a long history of mental illnesses and it is difficult to deal with (and most of my family lives 2000 miles away and it's still hard!). Take care of your baby. You do need to get him in a different child care situation. Even though you may have expressed to your MIL that you don't want FIL around, who knows if she's complying with your wishes.

It's hard not having family to count on. But a lot of us live that way. Make a network of friends. Let them be your family.

Also, I completely agree with the suggestion to get into some sort of Al-Anon program. You can't change your in-laws, but you can take control of yourself and situation by learning all that you can.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:50 AM on February 11, 2007

I agree with PeterMcDermott above. This is really one of the worst things that can happen to someone with psychiatric illness, because it means that their above-board attempts to get treatment failed. It is a sad, sad thing.

I have an uncle who is a lifelong alcoholic and an aunt who has not just enabled him, but in some ways has even more destructive tendencies than he. She can be a very trying person to be around, and I try to be around her very minimally and only when I think I can handle it. But on reflection, I just feel really sad for her, because she had a first marriage to an alcoholic too, and had an abusive father, and I'm pretty sure she's never been able to even find out who she really is or what she really wanted from life. She's kind of a slave to her dysfunctions. When I remove the emotions around being related to her, I just feel sad for her. Even when she lashes out, the truth is that she's hurting herself the most.

I say this because I think it's possible to flip your perceptions about someone who does seemingly horrible things to examine what their motivation might be (usually self-destruction) and what it might feel like to be them. A history of depression and bipolar disorder means years of pain, pain and more pain. The crack addiction is just a means of trying miserably to alleviate the pain.

Not that there's anything wrong with you for feeling angry -- I think it's a natural and common reaction. But flipping your perception of him will help you cope with his behaviour, and it's (in my opinion) the compassionate thing to do.

All that said, it's also perfectly reasonable to restrict your relationship with those people, because you and your family have to come first. You have to protect your own mental health and well-being. So have a cordial relationship, but don't pay into a destructive situation by relying on them for childcare or feeling emotionally dependent on them in any way. They just aren't up for those responsibilities in their current state.
posted by loiseau at 9:02 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I understand your frustration and admire your self checking regarding your actions here. I suppose my immediate reaction is to wonder what threat to your son's welfare is or has been posed by your filaw taking drugs? Kids are exposed to many psyche disturbing events in life and I kind of agree with PeterMcDermott's sentence about the presence of a loving family - a situation that cuts both ways. Good for child and addict grandfather.

I'm not suggesting you leave the child at the inlaw's place but if the filaw acts, you know, like a grandfather should do, within the bounds of reason when you visit, then isn't a continuation of the relationship building likely good/better for the both of them? The kid is probably going to be more detrimentally affected by hearing yelling and screaming from significant people in their environment than they are by someone nursing them with a smile on their face that happens to be stoned. [Yeah, of course this is a tricky area and you just have to use your best judgement as to the presence or otherwise of bizarre or wary behaviour at the time of any visit. But half the population are gobbling down pills and booze or are in possession of poor behaviour skills so the fact that it's (omg!) illegal drugs should, imho, be toned down when it comes to judging whether or not a relative - or anyone - should or should not be allowed interaction with the child.

I guess I'm heading towards the suggestion that things such as implied blackmail ('no involvement with kid unless you're clean') are an understandable reaction perhaps, but really, don't you think that guilt that the filaw will feel is just going to make him feel worse about himself and maybe further contribute to his cyclic behaviour? And doubly so if there is a background of psychiatric disorder. I know people will say that addicts bring it all on themselves and have to deal with the consequences etc etc but in reality, giving a modicum of support is far likelier to edge the situation towards them accepting that it's time to get help than will harsh judgements, rhetorical threats or other ego destroying censure.

As for the milaw. I don't know. I didn't quite 'get' whether the finlaw came to your residence or the inlaw's house against your wishes? I agree with banning the finlaw from your house when milaw babysits. This would be my 'line in the sand'. If he visited and she lied, then she shouldn't be allowed to babysit again. I also think that your milaw should be encouraged to see someone professionally.

I'm not trying to pretend any of this is easy or that you should accept any sort of behaviour from the finlaw. I just reckon some middle ground might be better all round. I do agree with those who advocate your seeing someone or some organisation. It's plain to see that you would benefit from talking to someone experienced that isn't in your family. Good luck.
posted by peacay at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2007

Kinda like someone doesn't choose to break a leg, but they do get to choose if they will get it fixed or not.

Not really like that at all, Sassyfras. Somebody doesn't choose to get a broken leg fixed because it placates pissed off family members -- they do it first and foremost because it hurts like hell and getting it fixed makes it better. No sacrifices involved there.

With substance misuse in dual diagnosis, people tend to be doing it because everything *else* hurts like hell, and the drugs deaden the pain.

Trying to persuade someone to seek treatment, in that context, is like suggesting that they have their leg broken over and over again, on a daily basis -- because the only thing that provides them with any relief is making *you* unhappy.

Secondly, even if they did take up treatment, drug dependence is a chronic and relapsing condition. Very few people get better on the first or second shots, even when it isn't confounded by psychiatric illness. When you're talking about dual diagnosis though, the prognosis tends to be extremely poor. Father-in-law may very well have treatment episode after treatment episode and *still* not recover for many, many years -- if ever.

This isn't because he's a bad person. It's who wants to intentionally inflict distress -- I'm sure that the exact opposite is true. It's because his brain is broken and doesn't work the way that yours or mine does.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:14 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with Peter McDernott and pescay. What would you do if your filaw had a serious neurological disease or brain tumor and some of the unfortunate symptoms were: very little impulse control, dramatic mood swings, severe perceptual distortions, rage, impaired judgment, difficulty setting priorities, inability to execute complex tasks etc. I am guessing you would protect yourselves from his behavior that was destructive to others, have empathy for his self destructiveness, lead your own life with as much grace and optimism as is possible and maintain a loving but cautious relationship with him.
As stated, while anger and resentment are reasonable human responses they are particularly unhelpful to anyone--most importantly to you and your family.
I can promise you no one was ever cured of depression or bipolar disease because of someone' else's anger or resentment. You will never be as angry or vindictive towards him as he is towards himself. Actually, the number of persons with bipolar disease who abuse drugs/alcohol is higher than 50%--more like 70-80% with 30-40% addicted. You should (strong word) emancipate yourselves from any dependence on them--period. This is a place for compassion, empathy AND healthy and strong self interest on your parts. Best wishes Go to AL Anon whether you want to or not--or try the local DBSA group (Depression and BiPolar Support Association)
posted by rmhsinc at 10:18 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another call for finding another sitter!

IF MIL wants to see the baby, have her come to your house.
posted by k8t at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2007

This sounds really tough.

Given the complexity and inherent difficulties of the situation, could I suggest finding an effective counselor to work through this with you? Ideally this would be a counselor who can effectively apply Jesus teaching and approach to the situtation that can genuinely lead to your steps to freedom...

I say this, because if you can find yourself in future in a position where you have acknowledged the offence that has been caused to you, you can then move forwards to foregiveness and thereby freedom for yourself from the behaviour of others. At this point, you will be an even stronger position to action all of the above comments from people which I also agree with.

Not easy, but will lead to significant and sustainable improvement for you at least.
posted by pettins at 11:01 AM on February 11, 2007

You're doing the right things, and the resentment you feel is reasonable, albiet unproductive. It makes you feel crummy.

Don't use your child to manipulate your family. If your mother is able to come to your home to care for your child, without your father coming to the home, then keep an eye on it, and be grateful for her work. If it isn't working out, then find other child care, because you have chosen to have good boundaries and keep your child safe. You don't in any way support your father's drug-taking behavior, but you should support therapy, AA, etc. Neutrality is what you should aim for. You can't fix this. Anything judgemental or manipulative doesn't help the situation, and makes you feel crappy.

Your father-in-law has a serious illness. Your m-i-l is in a rotten place. Sit down with her and see if you can help her set up some financial safeguards so that she has some financial security. She should get him off any deeds, shared accounts, etc., in order to protect her interests.

Any healthy time your child can spend with grandparents is good. When grandpa is drugging, then you tell the child that Grandpa is not well and can't visit. If you have an emphasis on teaching your child to be compassionate, it may help you to lose some of the anger and resentment. This is pretty much how I deal with my bipolar/alcoholic mother.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the responses so far -- I truly appreciate all the thought that was put into your advice.

If I may ask a follow-up question...I understand that quality time with my son's grandparents is important. I have no desire to punish my father-in-law indefinitely, only to (a) protect my child and (b) make a point that it isn't acceptable to me for my father-in-law to continue having a relationship with my child and simultaneously use crack. I feel like there should be some reasonable consequence to his actions. So my follow-up question is, how can I best determine when it's appropriate to take small steps toward trusting my father-in-law again?

As previously stated, I have zero faith in my mother-in-law's trustworthiness on this subject. (I know she loves her grandson and wouldn't harm him, but I also know she loves her own sons and yet she had no problem with her husband stealing from them, for example). She has a tendency to claim after one good day that "everything is fine now." Her history of covering for him and lying to us doesn't make me comfortable in taking her word for it regarding his progress. do I determine when it's time to loosen the lead, so to speak, on his interaction with my child?
posted by justonegirl at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2007

When he pisses clean in a drug test, and/or his therapist tells you it is a good time for supervised family visits. Or: with very close parental supervision, any time you choose, provided he seems lucid and you before you bring your child into the room he is in, and/or your husband is prepared to take your child and leave should his behavior become erratic or upsetting.
posted by Scram at 2:53 PM on February 11, 2007

Your fil will be bipolar forever. That fact is not going to be changed by his deciding to shape up or by your deciding to monitor his behaviour and impose consequences. Because being bipolar is a brain disease, many bipolar people are unable to recognise anything's wrong.

Another difference between a broken brain and a broken leg: when your leg is broken, you observe it with your brain. You interpret the pain and your behaviour when you stand on it. When your brain is broken, how do you observe it? If you can't observe anything wrong you're going to be awfully difficult to persuade to get help.

Many bipolar people consume various kinds of drugs, including prescription mood stabilisers that reduce their symptoms. (Alcohol, for instance, is a very effective treatment for mania, but doctors rarely reccommend it because of its significant side effect profile.)

So. If you assume your fil will be bipolar forever and using various prescription (you don't say whether these are helpful medications - they could be) and non-prescription drugs for much of that time, that will relieve you of the burden of trying to control/improve his behaviour. Just drop that as a goal entirely. It's not going to happen. (Well, it might. He could be arrested and hospitalised at some point and given an appropriate and effective treatment. But don't expect or even hope for it. If it happens, it's candy.)

So now you're down to doing what's best for yourselves while remaining respectful of your in-laws. You can explain to everyone that you aren't going to spend time with your fil when he's not well - that is, erratic or aggressive. When you spend time with your in-laws, set it up so that you can get away easily. Do visit them at their house so you can leave any time. Don't book a week for the five of you at a condo in Florida or Vail.

When you arn't feeling comfortable with his behaviour, leave. You don't need to make a judgement about why he's that way (he might not be stoned: he might just be manic). You aren't having fun and your continued presence isn't benefiting anyone, so there's no reason to stay and every reason to go.

If he's always erratic, never ok, then just pop in for brief visits (five minutes, say) to say hi to your fil when you pick up your mil to take her out somewhere.

Find another babysitter immediately. Your mil has already lied about important things. You don't want to burden your relationship with worrying about whether she's going to lie about something important again. You'll be much more relaxed about her if you aren't dependent on her for services that she isn't able to provide reliably.

And absolutely, make sure your mil is financially protected. That will take another burden off your shoulders and leave you less resentful of your in-laws.
posted by kika at 3:05 PM on February 11, 2007

I understand what you're saying PeterMcD and I agree with your explanation.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:27 PM on February 11, 2007

First: The primary person your resentment is hurting is you. Your father-in-law cares much more about the drugs than about your feelings for him, so while your anger may seem "justified," it's not useful to you at all. Letting go of anger and resentment is a slow, difficult process, and it's important not to judge yourself during this process. But it's definitely worth it. Yes, the father-in-law should reap the consequences of his actions. You, however, should not be compounding this by inflicting his actions on yourself.

Second: I feel it's your husband's responsibility to set firm boundaries, because they are his parents. You barely mention him in your question. Why are you asking this question, and not him? Personally, I'd be pissed off at my partner if he didn't rein in his own parents for the safety of our son. Maybe you need to set boundaries with your husband, so that he can set them with his parents. There's GOT to be other babysitting services available wherever you live.
posted by desjardins at 3:39 PM on February 11, 2007

Your father-in-law is selfmedicating his bipolar. That sucks because he is only making it worse for himself. Your main problem is his wife the enabler.

Your main focus needs to be-and obviously has been-your child's safety, for which I commend you.

IF it were me (and full disclosure, I'm bipolar) I would keep the child away from both of them until mom-in-law gets some counseling for herself and some understanding of how her actions are enabling -and TRULY HARMING-her own husband. I'd recommend a family systems counselor. This could be a matter of life and death for her husband, as bipolar disorder can be fatal if not properly treated. Yes, worse than heart disease and cancer.

This is truly tough. I feel for you.
posted by konolia at 4:47 PM on February 11, 2007

IANAP (parent) but it seems to me that you're doing the right thing by limiting your son's exposure to your father-in-law. I can't find it now -- so take this with a grain of salt -- but I do remember reading something recently that said kids who are exposed to drug use from an early age are at higher risk for developing behavioural problems (which can snowball into a whole bunch of other things, like trouble at school and so forth). Also, it just seems like common sense to me that a little kid shouldn't think being high on crack is a "normal" state for anyone to be in, no matter what the reason is. Yikes.

I do have sympathy for those affected by mental illness as it has touched people in my family too, but nobody forced him to take the drugs. He may not be able to detox on his own, but don't feel bad about putting your son's interests first until your father-in-law gets some help.

I can't imagine how hard this must be for you; I wish you the best of luck.
posted by AV at 8:10 PM on February 11, 2007

Your anger is normal and it is also rational. Don't feel guilty about this understandable reaction. But it will ultimately wear you down emotionally, so it is a good idea to do what you can to try to come to terms with it, and to cultivate what compassion you can for your in-laws - since being an addict or the spouse of an addict is itself an awful, painful thing, and these peoples' personal volition is clearly impaired.

That being said, none of the consequences you've imposed are unreasonable. The fact that you may feel some kind of punitive satisfaction in imposing some concrete consequences on their behavior is, well, again dwelling on this reaction may not be best for your emotional health but it doesn't mean it is wrong. By their choices and actions your in-laws have made their home an unsafe environment and themselves terrible role-models. They need to change and you should not facilitate or encourage their behavior in any way. The broader consequences of their actions should be in their faces. Family addiction is always a sad situation but you are doing the right thing so stick to your guns.
posted by nanojath at 9:31 PM on February 11, 2007

Lots of recommendations for Al-Anon, but be aware that the 12 step fellowships aren't everybody's cup of tea. Some people find them dogmatic, judgemental and cult-like. (Others credit them with saving their lives, so you pays your money ... except it's free so you actually don't).

Also, be aware that Al-Anon membership is primarily about getting support for yourself and is not about getting treatment for the addict. However, what you'll tend to find at their meetings is a bunch of people who believe that the twelve step route is the only way, and death is the only alternative for those who resist -- which isn't actually what the research evidence says on the issue.

A recent randomized controlled trial looked at how effective various interventions were when it came to getting family members into treatment. The study compared Al-Anon, Johnson Institute-style 'Interventions' and a form of family therapy called CRAFT -- Community Reinforcement And Family Training.

The difference in outcomes is quite staggering. I believe something like only 29% of family members using the confrontational-style of interventions completed the training, and just 24% of the patients engaged in treatment.

With CRAFT, which takes a much less confrontational approach, avoiding the Tough Love and stressing how much everybody cares about the subject, 74% of this treatment-resistant population actually entered treatment.

Here is a pretty good outline of the approach (sorry, PDF), here's the abstract of the breakthrough science paper and here's the website of one of the leading exponents of this method with a plethora of links and references on the subject.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:04 AM on February 12, 2007

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