What Is Evidence-Based Treatment?
When looking for an addiction treatment program, one of the most important factors is whether that program uses evidence-based treatment methods. Evidence-based simply means there is some scientific evidence that a treatment method works. Treatment methods are typically compared to a placebo, to other common methods, or to doing nothing at all. The idea is that if you are going to put time, money, and effort into some form of treatment, you want some kind of indication that it is better than doing nothing and certainly some assurance that it isn’t harmful.
For example, if you go to the doctor, you assume whatever treatment the doctor prescribes will be evidence-based. The standard way of developing medical treatment is to try one treatment on one group and another treatment on another group and see which treatment helps more people. For a medication to get FDA approval, it has to go through a rigorous process testing both its safety and effectiveness. For a new drug to be considered effective, it has to perform better than placebo with no active ingredient.
Unfortunately, testing treatment methods related to addiction is not so straightforward. For example, it’s hard to create placebo psychotherapy. A bigger problem has to do with the nature of the disease. Mental health issues play a significant role in addiction but you can’t monitor mental the same way you would an infection or cancer. As a result, it’s hard to quantify the effectiveness of an intervention for, say, depression, because symptoms are erratic and evaluation is subjective.
Despite these challenges, some treatment methods do appear to work better than others and evidence-based treatment has become an increasingly important aspect of addiction treatment – and mental health treatment in general – in recent decades. Not only is evidence-based treatment important in itself to ensure you’re doing something that actually works, but when a treatment program uses evidence-based methods, that indicates that the staff and administrators keep up on new developments in the field.
The following are some common evidence-based treatment methods for addiction and common co-occurring conditions that you should look for when choosing a treatment program. Keep in mind that a program doesn’t have to use all of these or use them exclusively, but their main focus should be evidence-based.
Twelve-step facilitation is the oldest method on here, based on AA, which was developed 85 years ago. The 12 steps are also the basis of many professional treatment programs, including those at Foundry Treatment Center. Since so many people have used 12-Step programs to get sober, researchers have long been interested in evaluating its effectiveness. The key elements of 12-Step facilitation include accepting you have a problem; surrender to your higher power, the program, and support structure; and active participation in 12-Step meetings and activities. As you might expect, the strongest evidence for the efficacy of 12-Step facilitation exists for people who want to stop drinking, especially if their peer group supports drinking. However, there is evidence that it is also effective for other substances, including cocaine.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is currently considered the gold-standard for psychotherapy. CBT is a collection of techniques and strategies to manage your behavior and thinking. Whereas other forms of therapy might focus on your past, CBT tends to focus on the present, especially your underlying thoughts and assumptions that may be creating challenging emotions. CBT also includes behavioral strategies like thinking of positive and negative consequences for actions, coping with cravings, and avoiding high-risk situations. What makes CBT especially effective is that it involves learning a set of skills that clients retain after treatment, essentially allowing them to act as their own therapist.
There are also a number of other treatment methods based on CBT. Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is one that is commonly used to treat addiction and related conditions, including borderline personality disorder, suicidal depression, and eating disorders. Other methods based on CBT include acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.
Motivational interviewing is a process of helping someone find their own motivation for getting sober and staying sober. It is not a persuasion technique like an intervention where you might lay out an overwhelming case that someone has a problem and needs treatment. Rather, it’s a process of helping someone think about their substance use, its effects on their life, and how that relates to their values and priorities. Pretty much everyone enters treatment feeling ambivalent about sobriety and these tensions can undermine recovery. Motivational interviewing is typically a series of a few conversations that can help people resolve their internal conflicts, freeing them to succeed in recovery. Motivational interviewing is just a first step, designed to help clients commit to a treatment plan. It also appears to be most effective for people trying to quit alcohol and marijuana, while being less effective for opioids and stimulants.
Family Behavior Therapy
It is often said that addiction is a family disease. This is true both in terms of genetics and behavior. If you struggle with addiction, there is a very good chance that at least one parent also had substance use issues or that you grew up in a family with some kind of dysfunction. Often, people assume their own family environment is normal and don’t realize how it may have contributed to their addiction and the same is true for other family members. Family therapy is often an effective element of treatment, especially for adolescents and young adults. It helps to resolve family conflicts, improve communication, help family members set and maintain healthy boundaries. This creates a better family environment for everyone and a more supportive environment for addiction recovery.
It’s important to note that there are significant variations among individuals, even those that are apparently struggling with the same problems. For example, there is mounting evidence that depression may be several kinds of conditions with similar symptoms. Treatment that works for one kind of depression may not work as well for another. An evidence-based approach is not a guarantee that a particular treatment will work for you, only that there is good reason to try it. Quality programs typically incorporate a number of evidence-based treatments and focus on providing individualized care.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body, allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.
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