Tips for Motivating Drug Treatment
On occasion, you may come into contact with individuals you feel should seriously consider substance abuse treatment. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help them get their life on track.
Overcome the Myths Related to Treatment
- A person can't be forced into treatment. They need to have the desire to change for treatment to work.
- Addiction treatment didn't work in the past, so there's no point in trying again. Like many healthcare treatments, recovery from drug abuse is a process and may involve setbacks. Returning to treatment may help a person see things differently or adjust their approach to help ensure recovery success.
- A person has to hit rock bottom before they can get better. Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—but the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the more likely it is that a person will become addicted to substances of abuse. Don't wait until the person has lost it all to intervene and express your concern.
- Overcoming addiction is a matter of willpower and people can choose to stop using drugs. Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, not a choice. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.
Set a Positive Tone
Realize if you are giving advice to a person about how and why they should change you will find the result unrewarding and ineffective.
- Gateway recommends using techniques of Motivational Interviewing (MI) to promote self-directed change.
- A recent meta-analysis* of 72 studies found that MI outperformed traditional medical advice-giving in 80% of the studies.
- MI is an open-ended, non-confrontational approach for interacting with a person who is unsure, uncommitted or ambivalent about changing.
- MI helps you educate and empower a person to make well-informed decisions that satisfy their own personal health needs.
Understand Defense Mechanisms
Most defense mechanisms are fairly unconscious – meaning most of us don't realize we're using them in the moment. These three defense mechanisms are fairly common when it comes to a person who is abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Denial - When someone states they don't have any problem with alcohol or drugs.
- Projection - When a person believes they are not the problem and you are the one with the problem.
- Rationalization - A person believes the reason they have a problem is A, B, and C, etc. so they don't bear any responsibility.
Helping a person learn more effective ways to cope with stress or traumatic events in their lives can help them consciously make better decisions about their actions.