Peer Power: Using Our Own Experiences to Help Loved Ones Cope with Addiction

September 01, 2017 | Dave Jansa

Over the last three years, my world at Face It TOGETHER has shifted.

When I first started as a peer wellness coach at Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls, there was no designated loved one wellness coach in our office. While we’ve always been committed to supporting and guiding concerned loved ones, we weren’t always connecting with them on a peer level.

Early in my peer coaching career, about 20 years after achieving my own addiction wellness, I was in the throes of my son’s addiction. Even as a Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls wellness coach and a SMART Recovery meeting facilitator, equipped with the knowledge and training that both those roles provide, I still struggled when it came to dealing with his disease. My wife and I really didn’t have much of a leg up on anyone else, and our world was falling apart.

Then, in 2014, SMART released its Family & Friends Handbook, and it was a huge eye-opener for me. Adapted from SMART Recovery and CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training), the handbook was the start of my involvement as a facilitator in SMART Family & Friends meetings. Equipped with this new information, some research I had started doing on my own and all the experiences I had with my son, I began shifting my focus to concerned loved one clients at Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls.

Today, about 80 percent of the clients I see are concerned loved ones. 

Though I'm not CRAFT certified, I use the principles of CRAFT in a peer-to-peer setting to help people navigate their way through their loved one’s disease. In CRAFT, there’s an emphasis on changing the way that concerned family and friends interact with their unwell loved one. It’s not as confrontational as other interventions, and it's been proven to be very effective.

In addition to educating loved ones on the full array of possibilities for wellnessI help them get centered in their own lives. Most of our concerned loved one clients come to us in a very compromised mental, physical and emotional state. I always tell people that before you can help someone else, you have to help yourself.

Even when clients’ unwell loved ones don’t get into treatment, they're so much better after working with a peer loved one coach who understands exactly what they’re going through.

We’re committed to helping concerned loved ones in their struggle with this disease. I can say without a doubt that what we're doing is working, and that we're helping concerned loved ones find a sense of wellbeing in their lives.


If you’re struggling with your unwell loved one’s addiction, or would like more information about our free services for concerned loved ones, make an appointment with one of our peer coaches here, or call us at (701) 566-5631.