The role motivational interviewing (MI) plays in having a successful drug addiction treatment is great. MI is a therapy that focuses on the patients’ readiness to change their addictive behavior before they enroll in an addiction treatment program. Its objective is to help the client see their problems as what they are and how changing their behaviors can benefit them.

The therapist tries to engage the clients as much as possible so that they will cooperate with the procedure. This is a very challenging part because most drug addicts, especially those who have been using drugs for years, are not interested in anything else except drugs. The next challenge for therapists is eliciting change talk from the client. They can ask the question, “How does drug use affect the amount of time you spend with your spouse?” or “How would you like your daily routine to be different?” The questions are asked to help them verbalize their thoughts about changing their addictive behaviors.

The third goal of motivational interviewing is to evoke change. The therapist stirs the client’s desire to change by giving them an option to live life and see things differently-usually in a less painful, less stressful, and more meaningful way. It is not enough to bombard the drug addict with lectures as to the dangers of drug addiction. In fact, most addicts know that they are in serious trouble, but they cannot get out because the pleasure they get in using drugs usually outweighs the adverse effects of drugs in their lives. At this point, therapists help the addict focus on small and specific goals and guide them in making realistic expectations while making important changes in their behaviors and routines. A good example is changing the morning routine. Instead of using drugs upon waking up, the drug addict takes a shower, drinks a cup of hot chocolate, and jogs outside.

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What motivational interviewing is not!

Motivational interviewing is not a brainwashing technique. The therapist does not talk to you to brainwash you, so you will be obliged to enroll in a drug addiction treatment. The truth is that therapists are just there to help you express your desire to change. Anyone who is suffering from addiction and loses control of his or her life is not happy with it. They continuously do so, not because they enjoy every minute of being an addict (because losing your freedom to drugs is not something to brag about), but because they cannot stop using it on their own.

MI is not a confrontation strategy. The therapist is not there to confront the patient or to berate them. These methods will only make the drug addict act defensively. Rather, MI is a collaborative effort between the patient and the therapist who work together to achieve a common goal; and that is for the drug addict to have the motivation to stop using drugs and cooperate in the treatment procedures for drug addiction.

A professional addiction treatment center can help you understand the facts about motivational interviewing and see whether it is applicable in your case or to your drug-addicted loved one.

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