What Does Evidence-Based Treatment Mean For Addiction?

Over the years, there have been a variety of treatment practices for substance abuse issues. As the healthcare industry learns more about the nature and treatment of addiction, evidence-based treatment and individualized care have become a staple in most addiction treatment centers. 

Evidence-based treatment involves applying methods backed by scientific studies that have been proven to produce positive results. These practices encompass a wide range of services that target addiction and its impact on the individual, family, and society. 

What Is Evidence-Based Treatment?

If you have ever sought help for a substance use disorder (SUD), you may have come across the term “evidence-based treatment.” 

Many drug addiction treatment facilities prioritize comprehensive treatment, including the use of evidence-based methods that encourage long-term recovery. 

Addiction affects everyone differently, which means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Although no one can guarantee that any treatment method will have a positive result, evidence-based treatment strategies increase the likelihood of long-term recovery. 

Evidence-based treatment also referred to as evidence-based practices (EBP), is supported by scientific research and clinical trials that are associated with positive outcomes. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), evidence-based practice is the combination of strong research, clinical expertise, and personalized treatment. 

Types Of Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

There are several different types of evidence-based treatment, including pharmacotherapies and behavioral therapies. These treatment methods can be accessed through inpatient and outpatient treatment services.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) 

MAT programs are available for people struggling with opioid or alcohol addiction. 

MAT involves a combination of FDA-approved medication that can reduce cravings, drug abuse, and withdrawal symptoms. MAT medications are usually combined with behavioral therapy or counseling, which improves treatment outcomes. 

FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcohol addiction, include:

  • naltrexone
  • acamprosate (Campral)
  • disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • topiramate 

FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder (OUD) include:

  • methadone
  • buprenorphine
  • naltrexone
  • buprenorphine/naloxone combination (Suboxone)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a popular method of behavioral therapy that teaches you to identify and change unhealthy behaviors through a variety of coping skills. These skills can be used to prevent relapse and may help improve co-occurring mental illnesses. 

CBT methods include:

  • exploring positive and negative consequences of drug abuse
  • awareness of cravings 
  • learning to identify people and environments that may trigger a relapse
  • developing healthy coping skills and learning to apply them in real-life situations

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), research has found that the skills developed through CBT methods can be long-lasting. 

Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency management is a form of behavioral therapy that involves the use of rewards, or incentives, to reinforce positive behaviors. Studies have found incentives for abstinence are associated with positive treatment outcomes. 

CM therapy may involve random drug tests and a reward for negative results. Incentives are tangible rewards, such as immediate prizes or vouchers that can be traded in for prizes or cash. 

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a brief intervention that can help reduce substance use. Through motivational interviewing, you will lead a discussion about treatment goals with your therapist.

Motivational enhancement therapy involves an initial assessment and motivational interviewing techniques. A provider will summarize your assessment in a motivational interview format to encourage a discussion about treatment and enhance motivation.  

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

12-step facilitation therapy is designed to encourage you to become involved with community-based 12-step programs. Becoming involved in a 12-step program can increase the likelihood of remaining engaged in treatment and maintaining long-term recovery. 

The basis for a 12-step program, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), is acceptance, surrender, and action. 

Through a 12-step program, you can develop an awareness that addiction is a disease that is out of your control. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves loved ones in the process of recovery from substances and co-occurring mental health disorders. 

Family therapy helps loved ones understand addiction and how it affects others. With the help of a therapist, family members can learn new skills and how to apply them in a home setting.  

Benefits Of Evidence-Based Treatment

While there are a variety of different treatment approaches, evidence-based treatment offers the most reliable treatment option. Evidence-based practices are supported by scientific evidence and show clinicians what is effective and safe for an addiction treatment program.  

Evidence-based treatment also promotes relapse prevention tools and personalized care that suits an individual’s values and goals. An effective treatment team will prioritize your preferences among the most effective treatment options. 

If you or a loved one is seeking a substance abuse treatment program, please contact us today to learn more. 


American Psychological Association (APA) — Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology

National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment

National Library Of Medicine — Evidence-Based Practices in Addiction Treatment: Review and Recommendations for Public Policy

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.