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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: July 28, 2003
Volume 38, Number 24

Miller earns award, funding for abuse prevention

By Dan Ware

William R. MillerUNM Psychology and Psychiatry Professor Dr. William R. Miller, who pioneered a leading method of substance abuse treatment, has been named one of five 2003 recipients of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse award by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A Distinguished Professor and a member of the faculty for 27 years, Miller is a researcher with the University’s Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA).

The award was presented to Miller for his work, including Motivational Interviewing, a form of treatment for alcohol and substance abuse he introduced, designed to evoke people’s internal motivation for change in health behaviors

As part of the award, Miller will received $300,000 to fund new innovations and research into substance abuse prevention.

Miller plans to initiate four new projects revolving around alcohol and drug addiction.

The first project, in collaboration with the UNM Department of Family and Community Medicine, explores interventions for substance abuse through primary health care.

Miller plans to convene a group of leading researchers and scientists in fall 2004 to look at new ways to combat substance abuse. The approach would be to start from scratch, drawing upon current scientific findings without taking for granted any current delivery systems of “brand name” treatments. The goal is to create new and innovative ideas to eventually put into practice.

A third program will look at all current studies and analyses of Motivational Interviewing to determine the overall impact of this treatment, trying to clarify the method’s effect on health problems.

Finally, inspired by the example he saw at the Na’nizhoozhi Center in Gallup, N.M., Miller wants to study the introduction of spirituality into the treatment of substance abuse. “Na’nizhoozhi incorporates Navajo spirituality as an integral part of their treatment methods,” Miller said. “It occurs to me that we could similarly draw on historic Judeo-Christian spirituality that is the heritage of many Americans who seek treatment for substance abuse.”

The spirituality component would be offered to patients as an adjunct to their existing treatment.

Miller’s Motivational Interviewing and its therapy counterpart, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, have been tested in dozens of studies with alcohol and drug dependencies as well as with other behavioral problems. A worldwide network of Motivational Interview trainers continue to teach Miller’s method to others.

For more information about the Robert Wood Johnson award or Motivational Interviewing, log on to the following web sites: http://newsroom.mbooth.com/sainnovators/ and www.motivationalinterview.org