What Does Evidence-Based Treatment Mean?

Friday, August 10, 2018 | By Chris Clancy

support group holding hands

When it comes to treating addiction, there are countless therapies, approaches, and treatments that those in recovery can utilize. Ranging from spiritual interventions to experimental treatments, there is truly no limit to how people work to try to offer the best, most effective course of care for those looking to end their addictions. However, while there exists this multitude of options, it is important to continue to rely heavily on evidence-based treatment, for it has stood the test of time in terms of treating addictions to all kinds of substances and behavioral challenges.

Evidence-Based Treatment: What is It?

Evidence-based treatment is just that: evidence-based. Because there are an innumerable amount of different treatments for different physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs, it is imperative to ensure that the care that is being provided will help, not harm, the individual. Treatments that have been studied carefully, researched, and put to the test (and passed) are evidence-based treatments.

Evidence is conducted on certain treatments to help support the use of treatments that can produce results and keep individuals away from those treatments that are either ineffective (and in turn, a waste of time) or those treatments that can be damaging to one’s wellbeing.

Today, countless organizations utilize evidence-based treatments for their patients, and rely on their different levels to help provide the most effective care:

  • Level I – Works well
  • Level II – Works; probably efficacious
  • Level III – Might Work; possibly efficacious
  • Level IV – Unknown/untested
  • Level V – Does not work/tested but does not work

Types of Evidence-Based Treatments

In regard to treating substance use disorders, there are several evidence-based treatments that have a proven level of efficacy. Depending on the needs of the patient who is receiving treatment, many of these behavioral and pharmaceutical treatments can be applied to his or her treatment plan.

Behavioral Evidence-Based Treatments

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is widely used in the field of addiction treatment. The overarching goal of this evidence-based treatment is to help patients think of issues that might occur in the future and develop proper coping skills to help manage their self-control when the issue occurs. Studies show that even though CBT is often done on a short-term basis, that the effects of it are long-lasting and help decrease the likelihood of abusing drugs and/or alcohol in the future.

The Matrix Model

The Matrix Model offers patients a combination of several evidence-based treatments such as family therapy, group therapy, drug education, and self-help groups of the course of roughly six weeks. Additionally, those participating in the Matrix Model will also be exposed to individual therapy, 12-Step groups, and relapse prevention materials.

Research has proven that those who are treated through the Matrix Model have drastically decreased instances of relapse, psychological complications, and minimal risky sexual behaviors that can lead to the development of HIV.

Family Behavior Therapy

Family therapy includes the patient and at least one of his or her family members. Through this approach, those involved will work through several different challenges through the application of appropriate behavioral strategies and skills that can improve both the personal and environmental relationship the family has. This particular evidence-based treatment has proven to help both adults and adolescents begin to heal the behaviors that have contributed to family distress and move forward in a healthier direction.

evidence-based therapy session

Pharmaceutical Evidence-Based Treatments


Naltrexone is a commonly used prescription medication for those who are recovering from alcohol use disorder. This particular medication is provided in pill form or can be administered via injection once every thirty days. When naltrexone is in the system, an individual will experience a significant decrease in the intensity and frequency of his or her cravings for alcohol. Naltrexone is usually provided at the beginning of one’s recovery to help him or her until he or she develops the appropriate coping skills to manage threats to his or her sobriety.


Evidence shows that when methadone, a synthetic opioid that produces the same effects of other opioids minus the high, is used in combination with therapy, that it is highly effective in helping individuals wean off of opioids and avoid powerful cravings.

Today, methadone remains one of the most commonly used medications to treat opioid addiction, as it has the ability to help individuals slowly withdraw from their opioid addiction and start focusing on other areas of evidence-based care.


Buprenorphine is another evidence-based treatment, and while it works just like methadone, it contains naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Because buprenorphine contains naloxone, it is extremely difficult to overdose on this substance. Research shows that when buprenorphine is used as prescribed and in combination with therapy, patients can benefit significantly in their addiction recovery.

Other forms of evidence-based treatments include:

  • Disulfiram
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Community reinforcement approach
  • Acamprosate

Getting Help

We understand what it is like to feel as though you are trapped in a never-ending pattern of addiction. We know that it can seem easier to just keep using rather than putting forth the effort to get sober. Having an addiction is extremely challenging, and many times demoralizing.

However, we can help you begin to see the light. At our center, we offer these and other evidence-based treatments that can be included in your overall care plan so that you can start to change your life for the better. You do not have to keep abusing drugs and/or alcohol, nor do you need to suffer while going through recovery.

If you are ready to finally put your addiction in the past, do not wait any longer. You deserve to get professional treatment no matter what anyone tells you. You owe it to yourself to ensure a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life for yourself and those around you.

Do not let anything stand in the way of your getting into recovery. Continuing to abuse dangerous substances will lead you right to dead end – literally. So, make the call today that will save your life. We are here to help.

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