Despite the inevitable health problems, financial costs, and social and legal consequences of substance abuse that have been well documented for years, the idea of living without drugs or alcohol can be terrifying for some people. The idea of giving up one’s drug of choice, especially after several years, can be outweighed by how the drug makes one feel, ultimately resulting in a lack of true motivation to get sober. For others, a pessimistic attitude or lack of courage keeps them from recovering. Our Pennsylvania drug rehab offers motivational interviewing for substance abuse to help people overcome their fears and doubts, fostering their ambition to get sober and start their recovery. 

What is Motivational Interviewing Substance Abuse Therapy?

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic technique used in addiction treatment by strengthening one’s motivation and commitment to the goal of sobriety. Motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment was developed by Dr. William R. Miller, an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico.

He first mentioned the technique in a 1983 issue of Behavioral Psychotherapy and has since published various books and other writings about the effectiveness and implementation of motivational interviewing questions and techniques. Practitioners of MI treat motivation as an interpersonal process as opposed to a personality trait that someone can develop or be born with, meaning that motivation is viewed as an achievable mindset. 

Clients who partake in motivational interviewing in addiction treatment adopt a different style of problem-solving, encouraging them to solve problems for themselves. This encourages self-awareness, accountability, and independence. 

Additionally, there are 4 stages of motivational interviewing:

Open questions, affirmation, reflective listening, and summary reflections (OARS) are the basic motivational interviewing techniques that practitioners use early and often in this treatment approach. While Engaging is usually the first phase of motivational interviewing, these stages aren’t necessarily linear. 

However, it’s tough to engage in a deep conversation for change without engagement, and it needs to be consistent throughout the entire process. It’s also important to note that how practitioners use OARS is somewhat different in each of these stages. 

While OARS in Engaging are used to create engagement and develop rapport with the client, OARS in Focusing are used to find and narrow in on behavior the client needs to change. 

  • Engaging: The goals of this stage in MI are to build a relationship with clients as well as to offer them comfort, safety, and empathy. 
  • Focusing: The goals of the Focusing stage are to explore, hone in on, and clarify the target behavior while exploring uncertainty and barriers. 
  • Evoking: During this stage of MI, practitioners focus on eliciting and reinforcing change talk, increasing the strength and frequency of change talk, encouraging clients to become curious about change, and helping clients develop internal motivation.
  • Planning: In the Planning, practitioners help clients with building motivational interviewing skills, action planning, removing barriers, and exploring other avenues of support.

During this process, practitioners may also ask clients open-ended questions to sustain Engagement throughout the program. Common motivational interviewing questions for substance abuse include: 

  • Why are you here today?
  • What makes you think you have a drug or alcohol problem?
  • What do you like about drinking or using drugs?
  • What worries you about substance abuse?
  • Why do you think you need to change?
  • What do you think about going to rehab?
  • How would you change?

Our Motivational Interviewing For Substance Use Disorders

Motivational interviewing emphasizes enhancing internal motivation to change. Although there are numerous reasons for a person to stop abusing drugs or alcohol and seek addiction treatment, most people believe they can stop using drugs without the help of medical detox or residential care. 

Relapse is unfortunately common among recovering addicts, especially in the earliest stages of recovery. They may go back and forth many times, feeling motivated to quit after encountering drug-related problems, but then quickly losing motivation. 

MI offered at our PA drug rehab aims to lay out the pros and cons of quitting based on what the person considers to be important, rather than having our therapists tell them what should be important to them. While traditional talk therapy is effective in many cases, motivational interviewing for substance abuse encourages clients to stay hands-on in their recovery at all times. 

Once clients confront their denial and come to their own conclusions about the pros and cons of getting sober, their desire to change, what change looks like, and how they want to implement that change, it’ll become much easier for this change to take place. In this program, clients are pursuing a life change that they chose rather than feeling forced to change.  

There are various benefits of using motivational interviewing, including accountability, encouragement to stay sober, and increased self-confidence. Our goal is to not only help clients get sober but to show them their strengths and how to apply them to their sobriety. 


For more information about our MI for addiction or other forms of Pennsylvania addiction treatment, contact Clearbrook Treatment Centers today.


Related Reading: 

How To Help A Friend With Addiction Recovery

How to Make New Friends in Recovery

Alumni Testimonial

“Throughout my addiction, I always felt alone. I thought no one understood what I was going through and felt as though I was always being judged. As my addiction progressed, I began to isolate more and more. I couldn’t stand the person I was becoming, so I hid from the world.  Before I knew it, I had no one else around. I was alone. When I first arrived at Clearbrook, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. Then the most surprising thing happened. The other patients and staff welcomed me with open arms. The bond I created with my counselor and other staff was absolutely amazing, but also surprising, because for so long I struggled to really trust anyone. I feel as though I have gained tremendous knowledge about my disease and recovery in the different groups I attended. It also allowed me to practice getting comfortable talking about my feelings in front of other people and made meeting new people in AA much easier. Going to Clearbrook is by far the best decision I have ever made. They treat you like family and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. No matter where I go in life or what it has to offer, I know that I am not alone and I’ll always have a place to turn.”

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