One of the hallmark signs of an alcohol addiction is when a person continues to drink despite the fact that the alcohol is causing harm to their health and life. If this continues, a person’s body and brain will greatly suffer, leading to illness and disease, many of which can become severe or life-threatening. In order for a person to reach the conclusion that their drinking is indeed harmful and dangerous and deserving of change, certain tools must be used. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is one such tool.
Why Does Alcohol Make It Hard To Change?
Addiction doesn’t just impact a person on a behavioral level. Addiction is a disease of the brain. This means that it changes the way your brain functions. How does this happen? As you consume alcohol the chemicals within your brain are altered. With prolonged and chronic use, as is characteristic of addiction, these chemical changes alter the way your brain operates. These changes make it very difficult for addicted individuals to deal with numerous aspects of their life. Why is this?
Alcohol abuse impacts certain parts of your brain which are responsible for rational thinking, judgement, and decision-making skills. Additionally, it can greatly disrupt a person’s emotional and mental states. Coupled with the behavioral aspects of alcohol within a person’s life, these factors can make it very difficult for a person to develop a desire for change on their own. And even if they realize they need to change, it can be hard for them to become motivated or to formulate a plan.
Change isn’t easy. This simple statement resonates with most of all of us in one way or another at different points in our lives. In the context of substance abuse, change can be even more difficult and exceedingly overwhelming. Some people don’t understand why they have to change, while others may not yet even realize that they have to.
Why Is Motivational Interviewing So Helpful?
Every person is unique and has a different understanding of how their addiction shapes their life, and conversely, what the role of treatment could be for them. Some people are in denial. Others may realize they have a problem, but not yet be willing to change. In some cases, a person may want to change but be terrified or intimidated by what the process entails.
During alcohol addiction treatment, Motivational Interviewing will help individuals to develop clearly outlined goals for their time both during and after treatment. These goals provide a framework for their treatment and recovery. But in order for a person to develop and obtain these goals, they first need to realize that change is necessary. And even more important yet, that they are capable of changing in a successful and positive way.
At this juncture, an individual must also formulate a motivation to make these goals a reality. Without the proper support, this isn’t the easiest transition. Motivational Interviewing is the bridge between need and uncertainty and positive change and growth.
What Are The Stages Of Change?
One of the founding principles of Motivational Interviewing is that change is gradual. In order for a person to change they most overcome certain mental and emotional barriers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) writes that there are stage-specific motivational conflicts, or steps so to speak, that a person must progress through before they can resolve to actively change. These include:
Pre-Contemplation – At this point a person may be in denial and not even realize that they need to change. If they do realize it, they are not willing to begin changing at this time.
Contemplation – During this stage a person is ambivalent towards change, even though they are beginning to see the need for it.
Preparation – At this point, a person is feeling positive about committing to change, but doesn’t know exactly how to make it happen.
Action – Here a person is beginning to make changes in their life, to the extent they’re witnessing positive effects. At this point the change is still so new that the person is not considered stable within their recovery.
Maintenance – Now that a person is sober and has begun to reach their goals, they must stay active to maintain this positive state.
Motivational Interviewing helps treatment staff to identify each client’s unique standing within their personal journey towards change. Once a therapist determines where a person is within these stages, they will help them to build strength and skills to progress to the next stage.
What Are The Principles Of Motivational Interviewing?
In order be effective, Motivational Interviewing must outline clear objectives which resonate with the patient. To do this, a second SAMHSA publication writes that “the motivational interviewer must proceed with a strong sense of purpose, clear strategies and skills for pursuing that purpose, and a sense of timing to intervene in particular ways at incisive moments.” This directed approach allows the therapist to adapt the sessions in a way which best creates an individualized treatment approach for the individual.
Alcohol addiction is very hard on a person. It exposes them to a myriad of emotions and thoughts which can be very confusing and cause them to feel defensive. Within treatment, many of these elements carry over. These factors can impede treatment progress if not properly addressed.
In order to overcome these barriers, and to make each client feel more at ease, SAMHSA notes that “the strategies of Motivational Interviewing are more persuasive than coercive, more supportive than argumentative.” This approach forges trust, communication, and self-reliance, all of which help the client to be more receptive to change and positive growth.
To accomplish this, as noted by SAMHSA, a therapist will:
- Express empathy through reflective listening.
- Develop discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behavior.
- Avoid argument and direct confrontation.
- Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly.
- Support self-efficacy and optimism.
- This therapeutic alliance helps a person to identify positive personal motives and strengths. In turn, these realizations become a driving force within a person’s pursuit of sobriety.
How Does Motivational Interviewing Increase Your Chances Of Sobriety?
Motivational Interviewing enhances a person’s chance of sobriety by increasing:
- Treatment retention rates.
- Participation within treatment programs.
- Positive treatment outcomes.
- The odds of long-term sobriety after the program’s end.
If you’re collapsing under the weight of alcohol addiction, or watching a loved one do so, it’s important to base your recovery on solid treatment approaches. Finding an alcohol rehab center which uses Motivational Interviewing can help you to build a successful, individualized treatment program.
Get Motivated For Sobriety And A Better Life
If you’d like to learn more about how Motivational Interviewing could help you or a loved one build a sober life, contact us today. Your call is confidential and AlcoholTreatment.net’s compassionate staff will help you to build an individualized recovery plan today.