Although levels of motivation at the start of therapy have no effect on treatment outcomes, improving a person’s motivation to change during treatment improves the likelihood of treatment success, the key lies in them believing change is possible. Improving an individual’s self-efficacy, in other words, a person’s belief in their capacity to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task has been found to improve treatment outcomes.

This is blog number 8 in the series 20 things you should know about rehabilitative treatment: What works. This list was compiled by the European Association for the Treatment of Addiction, according to the latest evidence.

Wanting to change, and believing that change is possible, is important for addicts and alcoholics in treatment

Improving motivation

It does not make a difference if a person is willing and motivated to attend rehab at the start of treatment but improving a person’s motivation to get clean and sober during therapy improves the chances of success.

One way to improve an individual’s drive to change is through a type of therapeutic strategy called motivational interviewing or motivational enhancement therapy. Motivational interviewing refers to “a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change” and “is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion”. 

Wanting to change, and believing that change is possible, is important for addicts and alcoholics in treatment

Research has found that two sessions of motivational interviewing delivered in a rehab setting significantly improved treatment involvement and outcomes compared to no provision of this kind of therapy.

Other strategies that have been found to increase a person’s enthusiasm to change include

  • Providing feedback from assessments regarding the impact of substance use on physical, social, and psychological functioning.
  • Providing direct advice about the need for change and how it may be accomplished.
  • Attempting to remove significant barriers to change.
  • Suggesting or providing alternative approaches from which the individual can choose to achieve change.
  • Decreasing the attractiveness of substance use through increasing awareness of the negative consequences and risks associated with it.
  • Utilising external pressures to enhance commitment.
  • Developing a clear set of personal goals for change and maintaining periodic contact.

Improving self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief that they have the capacity to achieve their goal – in this case achieving long-term sobriety. Many clients who come into treatment have little confidence in their ability to change and quit using drugs or alcohol. Improving their belief in their ability to change improves the likelihood that they will, in fact, achieve the desired changes.

People with a high level of self-efficacy are both more likely to survive dangerous situations without drinking or using as well as return to sobriety quickly after a slip instead of a slip turning into a protracted relapse.

But how exactly is self-efficacy enhanced in treatment? Strategies that focus on relapse prevention have been found to increase self-efficacy. Aftercare programmes have also been found to improve an individual’s confidence in terms of successfully abstaining from substances. Other therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational enhancement therapy have been shown to improve self-efficacy.

Are you looking for a treatment option geared at improving the drive to change as well as the confidence of achieving that change? Contact us today.