How to Overcome Addiction with Motivational Interviewing?

An older female therapist in a session with a man laying on a couch.

How to Overcome Addiction with Motivational Interviewing?

Overcoming addiction can be a serious challenge for some individuals. This can be especially true for those facing problems with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health conditions. In other words, a dual diagnosis. Addiction can negatively impact many different aspects of one’s life, including their close loved ones. Surrendering to treatment can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life. Moving forward with a trusted facility that offers motivational interviewing (MI) can provide many benefits for those who need professional help battling addiction. 

The Challenges of Overcoming Addiction

Misusing harmful drugs and binge drinking alcohol for a prolonged period can be detrimental to an individual’s mental and physical health. Addiction can impair many different areas of one’s life. An individual may face problems with impaired relationships with family and friends. This can be derived from negative addictive behaviors which include; manipulative behaviors, lying, stealing, etc. Many families are at an increased risk of experiencing emotional and financial distress related to their loved one’s condition. 

Furthermore, an individual living with untreated addiction may experience impaired work performance and delayed academic success as substance dependence can severely distract one from their top priorities. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction and mental illness are commonly linked. Individuals who refuse treatment are at an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents and infectious diseases. For example, some men are less likely to come forth about their emotions due to masculine expectations and social stigma today. Therefore, they are more likely to use substances to relieve psychiatric symptoms. 

Physical Health Risks from Prolonged Addiction

Many individuals begin to feel physical ailments related to severe stress related to prolonged addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although different drugs present different effects, active addiction can cause several physical health problems. Depending on the severity of one’s condition, withdrawal symptoms can be very severe leading to substance use disorder (SUD). This type of addiction encompasses mild dependency and addiction alone. Thus, an individual is at an increased risk of developing several different physical health risks. These might include: 

  • Weakened immune system
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Brain damage
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Seizures
  • Lung disease
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver failure


What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Based on the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, motivational interviewing (MI) can be a unique treatment option for individuals who are having difficulty coping with the stages of addiction. MI is a therapeutic approach that works by encouraging individuals to promote positive behavioral change and explore the vast difference between their negative addictive behaviors and future goals and values. Therapists gradually transition their care from building motivation to planning different phases of treatment. This type of therapy uses a unique communication style with different strategies to help one maintain focus. Open-ended questions in combination with various techniques may include: 

  • Reflective listening
  • Eliciting change talk
  • Shared decision making 
  • Recapping each visit
  • Ongoing affirmations


Value of Motivational Interviewing

It can be difficult to watch a family member struggle with the cycle of addiction. Choosing to participate in MI can bring positive change to not only the individual facing problems with addiction but peace to their loved ones as well. Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can make one feel trapped in the cycle of addiction. Thus, leading one to experience intense feelings of guilt, depression, and hopelessness. A lack of motivation can be the leading culprit of prolonged addiction. MI fortunately provides several benefits to those looking to overcome substance abuse. Benefits might include: 

  • Reduced relapse rates
  • Mental stability
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved receptiveness to treatment
  • Encouragement to take responsibility for one’s actions 
  • Promotes self-control for positive change


Maintaining Sobriety and Overcoming Addiction With Motivational Interviewing

It can be difficult for some individuals to effectively cope with unwanted triggers and intense substance cravings. Researching an addiction treatment center that specializes in MI can bring value to one’s life. MI can significantly help one maintain healthy motivation for long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Many individuals may feel hesitant to move forward with addiction and mental health treatment. This therapeutic approach is a highly effective, yet evidence-based form of care in helping one resolve mixed feelings related to their condition. 

Discussing a Complementary Approach

In addition, accepting emotional support and guidance from friends and family can also help one keep steady progress in addiction treatment for a more positive future. It can be helpful if an individual addresses new symptoms and concerns with their chosen specialist to improve their overall experience when working through the stages of addiction treatment. 

Depending on the treatment center chosen, some mental health professionals work closely with their clients by developing a comprehensive treatment plan. By doing this, they tailor their services to the individual’s specific needs for a more successful outcome. Sometimes following through with a complementary service may increase an individual’s odds of achieving long-term recovery and overcoming addiction. Various treatment modalities that commonly pair well with MI might include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Support groups
  • Relapse prevention
  • Sober living programs
  • Outpatient addiction treatment