Your Ultimate Guide to Evidence-Based Treatment: What It Is & Why It’s Important

The importance of evidence based treatment

There are so many types of treatment available in recovery – and with so many options, it may be hard to decide which one is going to be the most beneficial for you. Over time, researchers have tested various methods to see which ones are most effective, and that’s the premise for evidence-based treatment.

Defining Evidence-Based Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that each approach to addiction treatment is meant to serve a particular aspect of recovery, depending on an individual’s needs. The Academy of Medical-Surgery Nurses (AMSN) defines evidence based practice as,

The conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care”.

There are two primary types of evidence-based treatment: pharmacological and behavioral. Pharmacological treatment focuses on using certain medicines to ease withdrawal symptoms, help prevent relapse or to lessen the intensity of specific symptoms related to mental illness. Behavioral practices, however, are much more vast and could include any of the following:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a highly effective form of treatment that’s been used to help many people struggling with not only addiction recovery, but also for those battling depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and more. CBT provides a hands-on approach, and has been shown to help those in recovery apply healthier coping mechanisms to intense emotions or situations by identifying which thoughts are helping them versus which thoughts are hurting them.

Contingency management

While not used everywhere, contingency management utilizes certain incentives to encourage a person to participate in treatment. For example, a person may receive movie tickets in treatment for passing a drug test; they may receive a small gift or gift card to serve as a positive reinforcement for pursuing sobriety.

Community reinforcement

This approach involves the entire community – in which community members come together, often through community-wide projects, to support those around them who may be struggling with addiction. This is often when volunteerism comes into play, and community members may even host “give back” days where they educate their community on the dangerous effects of not seeking help.

Motivational enhancement

For those who are a bit unsure about whether or not they need treatment, motivational enhancement therapy can help a person become more committed to seeking help. Many people in recovery find themselves in denial or unsure if they even have a problem that needs addressed; motivational enhancement therapy helps a person find out for themselves which route would be most beneficial, and relies on the premise that a person who is most committed to their own decision to seek treatment are going to reap the most benefits.

12-Step programs

Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been shown to boost participation and engagement in addiction treatment programs; for many, it’s a space where they can get to know others who can relate to certain experiences and emotions while also building a social support group. Accountability is a core part of 12-Step programs, and through both sponsorship and peer support, a person is more likely to remain abstinent – especially the greater they become involved in 12-Step program activities.

Family behavior therapy

Families also tend to experience much backlash when addiction is involved, and therapy for all family members – both individually and as a collective system – are important. Family members may experience resentment, guilt, anger, depression and anxiety over their future and recovery, and family behavioral therapy can assist family members in developing healthy coping mechanisms, along with more productive communication strategies, to enhance their lives at home.

Adolescent therapy

Various populations have different needs, and adolescent therapy can help young teens identify how they’re truly feeling. In this type of approach, adolescents will build rapport with a therapy and explore various aspects of their lives – so that with the right help, they can develop better coping mechanisms to succeed.

Why Evidence-Based Treatment is Important

A study published in the journal Health Policy emphasized that evidence-based practices are crucial because they dictate which methods prove to be beneficial to those in recovery versus those who don’t; assessments can be made and, over time, researchers can obtain trends for specific treatment modalities and how they’ve influenced those in recovery. There are certainly other therapies that fall under evidence-based practices, and those deemed under this category tend to be assessed under a rigid review, such as:

  • Identifying barriers to treatment
  • Making suggestions for improvement certain practices
  • Highlighting key results that prove an approach’s efficacy
  • Exploring it’s practical use in treatment
  • Noting which programs are easy to use
  • And more

If you’re ready to apply an evidence-based approach to your recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.