What is Evidence-Based Drug Treatment?

evidence-based addiction treatment in connecticut

When a loved one is battling addiction, life can start to feel overwhelming. You may be overcome with feelings of worry or sadness, blame or shame, fear or uncertainty. And as if it all isn’t difficult enough, you’ve been tasked with choosing a treatment program for your loved one. How will you know which is “right”?

With all of the drug treatment modalities out there today – from holistic to science-based approaches, medically-managed treatment to behavioral therapies, to combination treatments – choosing is not so simple. Above all else, you want to choose a treatment program that is likely to work.

Perhaps that is how you came across “evidence-based treatment” – or, treatment that has proved to be effective before. Evidence-based addiction treatment is a form of therapy that is supported by evidence, science, or research. In this type of setting, clinicians and counselors use previously-observed, science-supported approaches to treat substance addiction.

Evidence-based drug treatment is founded on the concept of evidence-based practice (EBT), which the Institute of Medicine defines as “the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.” A 1996 article in the BMJ Medical Journal defines evidence-based treatment as the integration of “individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence.” These frequently cited definitions indicate that, in general, evidence-based treatment specialists use:

  • A professional’s clinical expertise, combined with
  • High-quality, external research and evidence, and
  • Their client’s values, interests, and needs

to determine their care approach. Let’s put this into perspective. An opioid rehab center that gathers relevant and recent studies on opioid use disorders, and further applies those results to their practice, would be considered evidence-based. A drug treatment facility that bases their programs on real, meaningful results (such as previous clients that achieved periods of abstinence) may also be considered evidence-based.

According to the EBP Substance Abuse, however, a drug treatment program can only be evidence-based if it has published research citing its evidence, or if it is recognized by other, reputable organizations as evidence-based.

There are several different types of evidence-based treatment methods used for substance use disorders. As noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Each approach is designed to address certain aspects of drug addiction and its consequences for the individual, family, and society. Some of the approaches are intended to supplement or enhance existing treatment programs, and others are fairly comprehensive in and of themselves.”

Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapies are medical treatments designed to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in addicted individuals. Methadone, for example, is an evidence-supported, agonist medication used in many opioid abuse treatment settings.

Evidence-Based Behavioral Therapies are designed to engage clients in their recovery, and focus on the long-term success of clients. They work to modify clients’ attitudes and behaviors related to drug use, by increasing their life skills and their ability to handle difficult situations and cravings that may trigger drug or alcohol use. Some behavioral methods will provide incentives for clients to stay sober, which has been shown to be highly effective. Some evidence-based behavioral therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency Management (CM) Interventions and Motivational Incentives
  • Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA)
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
  • Family Behavior Therapy

Often, evidence-based pharmacotherapy treatments are recommended in combination with evidence-based behavioral therapies. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction treatment can start with medication-assisted therapies, but these are rarely sufficient in helping individuals achieve long-term abstinence. Rather, the best outcomes come from continued care, using evidence-based behavioral therapies to improve patient engagement.

Evidence-based treatment is the cornerstone of modern healthcare. That is why, at Turnbridge, we use a variety of evidence-based approaches in our young adult and adolescent treatment programs. For example, all Turnbridge residents are required to participate in regular, 12-step meetings and seek a sponsor to support them through the recovery journey. Family therapy and involvement also carry great weight in our treatment community, as the NIDA highlights that “family involvement is a particularly important component for interventions targeting youth.” You can learn more about Turnbridge’s family therapy programs here and here.

Turnbridge also uses a combination of group therapies, individual counseling sessions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy practices, and mindfulness and meditation techniques to help clients overcome their addictions. Every treatment program is highly individualized based on each clients’ needs.

 To learn more about evidence-based, substance use treatment, please do not hesitate to reach out to Turnbridge at 877-581-1793. To read our latest Outcomes study – and the basis of our evidence-based treatment methods – please visit https://www.turnbridge.com/outcome-study