Dr. William R. Miller, Ph.D.

Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico
Dr. Miller obtained a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Oregon. He worked and taught at the University of New Mexico from 1976-2006. During that time, he served as Director of Clinical Training in the doctoral program in clinical psychology, and as Co-Director of UNM’s Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA). His research has focused primarily on behavioral treatment for substance use disorders. He has received numerous awards for his research. Dr. Miller helped develop the practice of “motivational interviewing” – a treatment method whereby the counselor seeks to evoke and strengthen the person’s own motivations for change.
key insights
  • Unemployment and associating with drug users are two factors linked to return to drug use.
  • It is not exposure to temptation situations, but rather lacking coping skills to deal with them that predicts return to drug use.
  • Opioid substitution is an effective tool in recovery. Behavior therapies have a good track record too. • Avoidance of trigger people or situations is particularly important early on in recovery.
  • During initial abstinence it is important to develop different sources of reinforcement and meaning in order to have a life that is too rewarding to give up.
  • IDEAS FOR THE CHALLENGE: He’s skeptical with the nature of this challenge. “ It sounds goofy. I am not entirely sure about the science.” There is no brain activation pattern that uniquely fires before someone is about to use, so specificity will be a big problem. You can track brain activation patterns, but appetitive activation happens for all types of reasons. He’s concerned there will be an enormous amount of false positives. • The technology could do harm. If you tell someone they’re at risk it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.