Addiction and the "accidental avalanche"

A motivational tool which revolutionized the way we treat drug and alcohol addiction is having surprising results in diverse areas, according to the man who developed the approach. He will give an address hosted by UNSW's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre next week.

Miller inside

The man who changed the treatment of addiction says his approach, Motivational Interviewing, is having benefit in changing behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking and over-eating.

Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, Dr Bill Miller, will deliver the free public lecture entitled "Motivational Interviewing (MI): An accidental avalanche".

"I'm delighted and astounded by the impact that it has had over the past 25 years," said Professor Miller. "It has some humanising influence on the field of addiction particularly. It is a person-centred practice, which takes blame out of the equation."

There are now 180 clinical randomised controlled trials around the world which incorporate the approach, in health care more generally, in probation and corrections and with the treatment of psychological problems.

MI has been proven to bring about lifestyle changes in chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, where a more holistic approach to health is needed.

"Professor Miller's approach plays an incredibly important role in how we treat drug problems today," said the Director of UNSW's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, Professor Jan Copeland. "His work has been profoundly influential in the academic and broader communities."

Professor Miller said MI was originally used for problem drinkers who might have come to a doctor through the court system or through an employer. "It's for working with people who need to make a change but are ambivalent about it. They are aware of it, but they don't think of it as a problem.

"The normal process is for people to think of a reason to change and then to think of a reason that they don't want to change and then to stop thinking about it," he said. "With MI we encourage people to keep thinking about their own reasons for change and to get unstuck.

"What makes our approach different is that we recognise that the best arguments are their own. We ask questions that prompt a call for change," he said. "It is the opposite of telling people that they need to change and how to do it. If you take that approach people become defensive."

What: Free Lecture Motivational Interviewing: An accidental avalanche
When: 4-5 pm Thursday 17th July, 2008
Where: The Corinthian Room, Sydney Masonic Centre, 66 Goulburn St, Sydney

RSVP is essential. Please contact Gem Mathieu 9385 0208