Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a term you may have heard in relation to drug addiction treatment and substance use disorders (SUD). It is an increasingly popular, and often very effective, therapeutic technique that focuses on an individual’s motivation, and what they can do to build upon it when it comes to staying sober.

Often, it is the motivation that drug addicts and those who suffer from substance use disorders struggle with most, so by focusing on strengthening motivation, therapists and drug counselors can really help their patients on the path to recovery.

So many people who struggle with substance abuse do so because they use drugs as a crutch to help them cope with various traumas in their lives, and as a result, they find it difficult to see a life without drugs, no matter how hard substance abuse costs them in terms of money, their health and even their freedom. 

They struggle to find the motivation to get sober because the drugs help them to get through the hard times, temporarily at least. They struggle to embrace sobriety because they think it will be too hard, even impossible, for them to achieve. Motivational Interviewing for drug addiction helps them to see that this is not the case so that they can finally embrace change and take the first step toward recovery.

What exactly is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing (MI) for drug addiction treatment is a therapeutic technique developed by Dr. William R. Miller, an eminent Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry working at the University of New Mexico.

MI has been around since the early 1980s and is a technique that focuses on giving the patient the tools they need to solve their own problems rather than the therapist being the one with all the answers.

As you might expect from the name, Motivational Interviewing focuses on building a motivational mindset in the drug addict so that they are more likely to do the necessary work that will enable them to recover.

What makes Motivational Interviewing Different?

Motivational Interviewing is a bit different from many other therapeutic approaches to drug addiction. There are three core concepts that make it stand out which are as follows:


In MI, patients have interviews rather than sessions. This is because MI sessions are meant to be a collaborative process between patient and therapist, enabling drug addicts to take control of their own destinies.

Patient-led goals

Secondly, in MI, patients are the ones who set their own goals for recovery. They are not given a particular set of goals or a definitive path to follow because they are all individuals and they need to have enough self-motivation to progress. That means their goals need to be personal to them.

Patient autonomy

Patient autonomy is at the heart of Motivational Interviewing for drug addiction treatment. Patients need to feel that they have the freedom to forge their own path and the power to make the necessary changes. By making patients responsible for their own recovery, they are empowered to do so while also being clearly supported by their therapist.

A complementary therapy

You might have noticed that Motivational Interviewing does not tackle the common causes of addiction such as childhood abuse, trauma, and mental illness. This is because it is squarely designed to help drug addicts find the motivation to succeed.

As such, it should be seen as a complementary therapy that should be used in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which can be used to effectively tackle the underlying causes of addiction more effectively. 

What can you expect when you enter into Motivational Interviewing (MI) For Drug Addiction Treatment?

There are typically four stages of the Motivational Interviewing process, which are as follows:


The patient gets to know the therapist and a trusting collaborative partnership is formed.


Patients and therapists focus on what is required for a successful recovery from drug addiction or substance misuse issues.


The reasons for change are explored by the patient and therapist, ringing out the most compelling arguments.


The patient works with the therapist to come up with their own goals and plots a path to recovery that is personal to them, and which they believe will work for them in the long term.
If you would like to know more about Motivational Interviewing (MI) for drug addiction, or you would like to know more about our outpatient services, the team here at Robert Alexander Center for Recovery is always on hand to help.

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