Motivational Interviewing for Substance Use

Harmful use of alcohol kills more than 3 million people each year. 35 million people are estimated to be suffering from drug use disorders. Tobacco contributes to the death of more than 8 million people a year around the world.

It is important that people who have substance use problems receive interventions that are of high quality, ethical and have strong evidence-base.

Motivational interviewing (MI) can be used as a psychological treatment that aims to help people cut down or stop using substances.

Typically, a counsellor who is trained in MI works with a client to support them making choices and decisions in how to move forward. This involves developing a trusting therapeutic relationship, free from judgement, where the person feels safe and heard. Then the counsellor supports the client to explore the arguments for or against change.

Over the years, research has carried out examining the effectiveness of MI in reducing or stopping substances with mixed results.

In their paper entitled Motivational Interviewing for Substance Use: Mapping Out the Next Generation of Research, researchers from the US examine the evidence, the different conditions in which MI Is effective and the training that counsellors receive.

It highlights the continued interest in MI amongst the substance use professional workforce, though it emphasises the need for continued research and evolution of ideas and practice to match changing societies.

Madson, Michael & Schumacher, Julie & Baer, John & Martino, Steve. (2016). Motivational Interviewing for Substance Use: Mapping Out the Next Generation of Research. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 65. 10.1016/j.jsat.2016.02.003.