How Does Motivational Interviewing Work in Addiction Treatment?

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Updated 08/04/2022

How Does Motivational Interviewing Work in Addiction Treatment?

Traditional therapy and counseling are designed to help patients dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol overcome their dependence and live a life of sobriety. With these methods, patients are highly encouraged to focus on stopping their use of drugs and healing any negative emotions that may be at the root of their addiction.

Motivational interviewing works somewhat differently to help people achieve long-term addiction recovery. How?

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational interviewing involves strengthening the commitment to achieve a specific goal. In the case of a substance use disorder (SUD), the goal would be to help an individual break free from their dependence on drugs or alcohol.

This collaborative approach incorporates different therapeutic styles, and when the interviewer and patient work together effectively, those who are affected by addiction can positively change their minds about the decisions they make and lean toward a life of sobriety.

Motivational interviewing is based on three specific concepts:

  1. A collaboration between the patient and therapist
  2. The drawing out of the patient’s ideas
  3. The autonomy of the person suffering from addiction

This is much different than patients being confronted by therapists or having the therapist impose their ideas on the patient.

Guiding Patients to Change Their Minds For the Better

Therapists who practice motivational interviewing recognize that people with SUDs are typically uncertain or even unaware of their stance and whether or not they are looking for a change. They have probably already suffered repercussions as a result of their addiction, which might have led them to addiction treatment.

Guiding Patients to Change Their Minds For the Better

That said, they may have also developed a substance use disorder as a means of self-medicating to cope with a traumatic experience with which they have had to deal. However, they might have trouble accepting the idea of having to give this position up, despite the fact that it is negatively affecting their lives.

To help patients make up their minds about changing their substance use behaviors, motivational interviewing aims to open their minds and their eyes to the pros and cons of the different choices they may be able to make. Within this collaborative and supportive environment, the patient’s goals can be developed based on the person’s own specific needs, values and goals without any pressure being imposed on them.

It is normal for individuals to change their minds many times about whether or not they want to stop using their drug of choice or give up their addiction. They may also go back and forth with how they view what their new-found sober life will look like if or when drugs are no longer a part of their lives.

Instead of challenging or questioning patients when they bring up concerns and confusion about whether or not to forgo their addiction, therapists who practice motivational interviewing typically help patients achieve a new outlook of themselves and how their addiction defines them.

Such an effort is achieved by providing and describing different interpretations of scenarios that may come up along the way. This, in turn, can help to keep the patient focused on making positive changes toward a life of sobriety that is based on the patient’s specific values and aspirations.

Will Motivational Interviewing Work For You?

There are plenty of avenues that people experiencing addiction can take to achieve and maintain sobriety, and motivational interviewing is one of them. If you or any of your loved ones deal with a substance use disorder, there are several Colorado addiction treatment resources available to help guide you. Please do not hesitate to call today. Contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake for a confidential consultation regarding admissions and treatment options available to you.

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When you call our team, you will speak to a Recovery Advocate who will answer any questions and perform a pre-assessment to determine your eligibility for treatment. If eligible, we will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. If The Recovery Village is not the right fit for you or your loved one, we will help refer you to a facility that is. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

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