Motivational Interviewing: A Tool for Behavioral Change in Addiction

Part of addiction treatment is learning the way your behaviors are affected by the chronic use of drugs and/or alcohol and undergoing treatment methods that work to rewire that thinking. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the human brain in the same way other diseases may affect other organs in the body; the brain circuits experience functional changes that impact a person’s behaviors, hindering decision-making abilities as it pertains to abusing drugs or alcohol. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a proven technique for helping those struggling with addiction by resolving ambivalence about behaviors that prevent change. 

Motivational Interviewing for Addiction 

Practitioners of Motivational Interviewing treat motivation as an interpersonal process, meaning behavioral psychotherapists believe that motivation is a mindset that can be taught and encouraged in those suffering from addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains some of the key messages and concepts behind Motivational Interviewing as client motivation is essential to promoting change in substance use behavior, motivational approaches to addiction treatment are based on principles of person-centered counseling, and effective motivational counseling approaches can be brief. 

Motivational Interviewing is especially known to be effective for alcohol addiction. According to research on the practice, those with alcohol use disorders tend to be more ambivalent about their addiction, therefore this treatment offers the help needed to unlearn these behaviors and thoughts. MI has also been recently tied to helping those with eating disorders, gambling addictions, and low self-esteem, reinforcing positive behaviors such as eating healthy and exercising regularly. 

Additionally, Motivational Interviewing helps clients stay on task and value long-term results both during and after treatment. If a client has relapsed in the past, it can often cause a sense of indifference towards the consequences of their drug use, and this learned behavior can be difficult to reverse. With MI, clients are more inclined to find their own inspirations for change and therefore become more motivated to remain sober long-term. 

Four Processes of Motivational Interviewing

According to SAMHSA, there are four processes of motivational interviewing for addiction. The four client-centered processes, established by the studies’ founders, Dr. William Miller and Dr. Stephen Rollnick, helps clients to identify their goals as well as work toward them. The four processes include: engaging, focusing, evoking, and planning. ‘Engaging’, as it pertains to MI, means getting to know a client and establishing a trusting relationship where both parties are aligned. ‘Focusing’ means coming together to establish a shared focus of the client’s recovery. Next, ‘evoking’ is when clients lay out their arguments as it pertains to their goals. Last, ‘planning’ is the client’s ability and willingness to envision a future where they change their behaviors for good, and how they will ultimately manifest these changes. 

Core Principles of Motivational Interviewing

SAMHSA cites the core principles of MI as integral to performing this form of behavioral therapy. To be effective, Motivational Interviewing for addiction must have providers that completely embody the spirit of MI where there is a partnership between the provider and the client that “fosters a collaborative approach to change.” The four interwoven core principles of Motivational Interviewing are as follows:

  • Partnership - a collaboration between the provider and the client. Establishing a working relationship where both parties are on the same page is imperative to MI’s success. In this partnership, the provider is meant to gently influence the client while the client drives the conversation.
  • Acceptance - the provider demonstrates acts of respect and approval of the client. The provider should seek knowledge and have an understanding of the client’s perspective and concerns as it pertains to MI or their addiction.
  • Compassion - the provider is meant to actively promote the client’s welfare and put the client’s needs first.
  • Evocation - the provider’s process of exploring a client’s existing motivations, strengths, core values, and resources. 

At Soba New Jersey, we believe in whole-person care. We host a wide-ranging staff with different specialties so each person can get the individualized help they require. We are here to offer our clients a partner for their journey to wellness and recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we urge you to consider our facilities. With a quick assessment, our providers can determine the level of care most appropriate for your or your loved one. Contact our drug rehab in New Jersey and get treated today. 

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