A Drug Addiction Therapy Known as Motivational Interviewing

Drug Addiction Therapy | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comThere are various forms of drug addiction therapy that have been proven to be successful for drug and alcohol treatment. They have led to resolving the conflict of addiction and helping to free people from the prison that the drug addiction cycle creates.

One effective form of drug addiction therapy is Motivational Interviewing.

Drug Addiction Therapy is a  method that focuses on and works to elicit the intrinsic desire to change one’s life. Motivational Interviewing recognizes that an individual using substances, is going to have ambivalence about ending their drug abuse.

If using alcohol or substances has brought relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life, among other perceived benefits, reasons to continue to use might still be there, despite the growing severity in consequences.

Furthermore, if underlying emotional issues, medical concerns, or any mental illnesses exist, then the desire to use drugs will almost undoubtedly continue. An individual might say that he or she wants to change, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might promote continued use. Thus, there often lies an enormous amount of ambivalence.

The examination and resolution of this ambivalence is the focus of Motivational Interviewing. A therapist using this approach is intentionally attempting to direct therapy towards this goal versus other types of therapies that explore the client’s inner experience without direction or intent.

In this way, Motivational Interviewing is goal oriented, attempting to first resolve a person’s ambivalence about drug abuse and then bring about a change in behavior. Specifically, this change in behavior is the continued choice not to use drugs or alcohol.

The core techniques of Motivational Interviewing are known by the acronym OARS:

  • Open-Ended Questions

  • The therapist uses open-ended questions in order to invite personal story, establish rapport, elicit what is important, provide an opportunity for an individual to hear his or her own struggle regarding drug abuse, and increase understanding.
  • Affirmations

  •  Affirming a person’s strengths wherever possible provides validation, encouragement, and support. It increases confidence in his or her ability to create change. One of the many dysfunctional patters of addiction is powerlessness. Affirmations can promote a feeling of inner power and the ability to make change.
  • Reflective Statements

  • These are statements that mirror what a person just said without actually repeating his or her words. For instance, if that person expressed difficulty in making a decision, the therapist might respond with, “It sounds like you’re having trouble making the right choice.” These statements allow the client to hear his or her own struggles and the ambivalence he or she is experiencing. Depending on where an individual is in the process of change and also on the depth of the therapeutic relationship, the use of different types of reflections may vary.
  • Summaries

  •  A therapist might provide a summary of the therapeutic discussion to highlight any changes, insights, or shifts that a person experienced during a session. Summaries might also include both sides of ambivalence and communicate empathy towards his or her difficult position.

Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic approach used in drug treatment since the early 1980’s. It has been incredibly successful in both examining the level of readiness for change and facilitating that change for a substance-free life. When a person is caught in the center of drug abuse coupled with a strong desire to change, this form of drug addiction therapy can help save lives. In fact, it’s a form of drug treatment that has guided many towards the bright light of sobriety.


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