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What They Want: Motivation and Treatment Choice in Nontreatment-Seeking Substance Abusers

Peavy, Katherine Michelle PhD; Cochran, Bryan N. PhD; Wax, John BA

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: December 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 4 - p 150–157
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0b013e3181c84072
Original Articles

Objectives Although a variety of therapies exist for the treatment of substance use disorders, little emphasis is placed on allowing individuals to choose their own treatment trajectories. Considering the preference of a person for the type of substance abuse treatment; he or she would want to be made to feel important and in allowing the person to feel autonomous, which may impact the overall motivation for substance abuse behavior change.

Methods The investigators assessed 51 country detention facility inmates recently arrested on drug-related or alcohol-related charges, examining the motivational factors and treatment preference when presented with 2 hypothetical treatments.

Results The findings showed that the group was relatively evenly split in terms of the percent choosing each treatment. Furthermore, individuals who reported preferring an abstinence-based philosophy of treatment had higher levels of readiness to change than those choosing a harm reduction philosophy.

Conclusions The results of this study have implications for developing brief interventions that could help facilitate the entry of motivated substance users into 12-step groups.

University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

Reprints: Katherine Michelle Peavy, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Puget Sound Health Care System, Mental Health Service, 1660 S. Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.