Addiction Treatment Methods Based on Scientific Evidence
Battling addiction can overwhelm people with substance use disorders (SUDs) and their families. You may experience feelings of worry, sadness, blame, and fear.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex condition with no one-size-fits-all solution. Different people respond differently to various types of treatment. For this reason, rehab facilities offer different evidence-based approaches to drug rehab therapy.
While the term evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment is popular, most people don’t understand what it is. Finding the right addiction treatment program can be challenging for people battling addiction and their loved ones.
At Icarus Behavioral Health in Nevada, we offer a wide range of evidence-based substance abuse therapy options. Keep reading to learn more about the various treatment programs at Icarus and find help today!
What Is Evidence-Based Drug Abuse Treatment?
Therapies and treatment methods used in evidence-based rehab treatment have been proven effective for addiction recovery through scientific research and testing methodologies.
Evidence-based treatment (EBT), commonly referred to as science-based treatment or evidence-based practices (EBP), usually integrates techniques such as:
Evidence from Research
This refers to the practice of employing treatments that have been proven to be beneficial and effective for healing in studies.
Clinical and Professional Expertise
In evidence-based rehab, those in charge of the patient’s care do a thorough clinical evaluation and employ effective treatment strategies.
Patient Preferences and Needs or Goals
We consider each patient’s unique requirements and desired outcomes when designing a treatment plan. This may have to do with the individual’s age, gender, living situation, adaptability, and other personal aspects that affect the likelihood of successful rehabilitation.
The American Psychological Association states that evidence-based practices integrate the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences.
Clinical practitioners can use this decision-making process as a guide as they decide on the most effective course of treatment for each patient. Evidence-based therapy methods consist of clinical evaluations, study citations, patient participation, and the application of effective therapies for a particular condition.
Evidence-Based Practices for Substance Abuse Treatment
Evidence-based practices for addiction treatment are the use of research to inform therapeutic decision-making. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence or a person’s preferences, it emphasizes scientifically proven methods. This could involve medicine, behavioral therapy, or any other method for treating addiction.
The evidence-based practice approach has proven successful in treating substance abuse disorders and is now being applied to other areas of mental health treatment. It already plays a significant role in delivering high-quality addiction treatment and will undoubtedly grow in that capacity.
Some methods that have been proven effective include the following:
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Using certain drugs together with counseling and behavioral therapies, medication-assisted therapy helps reduce harm by treating addiction. MAT uses drugs to reduce the severity of withdrawal and cravings associated with quitting substance abuse. Evidence suggests that combining MAT with behavioral therapy improves treatment outcomes for addiction.
Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are the most often used MAT drugs. These drugs alter the brain’s reward and reinforcement systems, making substances like alcohol and cocaine less enjoyable. Reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings is just one of the many benefits of MAT. It also promotes better mental and physical health, higher employment rates, and lower criminal behavior rates.
Use of Naltrexone for Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment
Naltrexone is the first-line pharmacological treatment for alcohol addiction, and its effectiveness has been peer-reviewed. This drug is an evidence-based medication for alcohol use disorders (SUD).
A recent systematic literature review was shown to be more effective than other drugs in reducing alcohol cravings, alcohol consumption, the time before the first relapse, and the severity of relapse.
Acamprosate inhibits N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors and acts as an agonist at (gamma)-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which play a role in alcohol consumption and cravings reduction. In two studies, patients given acamprosate had a higher rate of abstinence at follow-up than controls. The results of another investigation, however, failed to show any correlation.
Disulfiram is also prescribed for treating chronic alcoholism. It prevents the body from processing alcohol, leading to a toxic accumulation of a molecule found in alcohol, which causes withdrawal symptoms and deters further drinking. The effects of the medication on alcohol usage were equivocal in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy created to help people struggling with substance use disorders and mental health conditions. It differs from other therapies since it concentrates on the present rather than delving into the patient’s past. Cognitive behavioral therapy effectively treats mental health issues like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to assist patients in recognizing the connection between their ideas, words, and actions and the quality of their lives and in developing more positive patterns of thought and action. CBT can be given in many ways, including weekly appointments with a therapist, self-help books, and digital applications.
Below are some examples of evidence-based behavioral therapies:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- 12-step facilitation therapy
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
Substance abusers can work through their reservations about getting help and maintaining sobriety using motivational enhancement therapy. Although motivational enhancement therapy is not a rehabilitation treatment in and of itself, it has been shown to improve outcomes when used in conjunction with other therapies.
A typical course of motivational enhancement treatment entails four to six sessions with a therapist. On the first visit, your therapist will evaluate your current health and reasons for seeking help. The next step is a series of two to four therapy sessions where you’ll discuss the assessment results, your current substance abuse level, and why you decided to get help.
The goal of MET is to get the patient to a point where they are motivated to make that journey toward long-term sobriety. It exposes and shows you how your substance addiction seems to an objective observer. You may not like what you find, but it is a powerful incentive to get help.
Even the best rehab center can help without the right amount of drive. Even after you’ve finished motivational enhancement therapy, you and your therapist may work together to create a plan for handling potential triggers.
You might also develop new coping mechanisms when you’re faced with urges or tempted to relapse. Whether used alone or in conjunction with other forms of treatment, MET can do wonders for maintaining your enthusiasm for getting better.
Individual Counseling and Group Therapy
Therapy and counseling can help you work through the challenges of life. Counseling can occur one-on-one between an individual and a therapist or in a group setting with multiple people. Evidence-based treatments like counseling are helpful in clinical trials.
It helps in treating mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, and the management of everyday stresses like those brought on by interpersonal conflicts or the loss of one’s job.
Counseling can also aid with behavioral adjustments like giving up harmful substances or reducing excess weight. If you’re wondering whether or not counseling is suited for you, it’s a good idea to consult with your primary care physician or a mental health professional.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that 12-step facilitation therapy is successful in treating addiction or drug and alcohol use. The treatment is based on AA’s 12 steps and is often provided in an outpatient environment. The therapist collaborates with the patient to clarify the 12 steps and show how they apply to the patient’s situation. The therapist works with the patient to pinpoint what is getting in the way of the healing process and create a strategy to overcome it.
Medical practitioners are there to give moral and emotional support as well. 12-step facilitation therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing alcohol intake and cravings and improving other indicators of alcohol dependence.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a form of CBT initially created to deal with borderline personality disorder. Conversely, studies have indicated that it can be a helpful method of combating substance abuse.
DBT’s guiding philosophy is that innovation arises when competing perspectives are brought together to form a novel understanding. The four fundamental tenets of DBT include:
- Emotion regulation: a method for preserving a person’s mental health by fostering more effective handling of negative feelings.
- Distress tolerance: The ability to deal effectively with stressful situations.
- Mindfulness: Meditation on the present moment and awareness of one’s inner experiences.
- Interpersonal communication: Effective communication and interaction with others are essential for success in everyday life.
These four aspects are part of the comprehensive approach to treating drug and alcohol problems.
Experiential therapy aims to help patients heal by allowing them to feel and express their feelings fully. Experiential therapy is based on the idea that facing and working through one’s emotions can overcome traumatic experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress.
Examples of experiential therapy include:
- Therapy through the creative arts, like music, drama, or play.
- Adventure therapy and outdoor recreational activities include wilderness expeditions, ropes courses, and ziplining.
- Animal-assisted therapy, such as equine therapy.
- Therapy through creative writing, such as poems.
The evidence that family-based treatment programs benefit the fight against addiction is mounting. Working with the addict’s loved ones to get to the bottom of what’s driving their addiction is one way to family therapy. It may involve dealing with communication, emotion, and family dynamics issues.
According to the available research, treatment outcomes, such as higher rates of abstinence and enhanced functioning, are more likely to occur when the whole family is included. Additionally, those battling numerous addictions and those who have relapsed following treatment benefit greatly from family treatment techniques.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Bilateral eye movements are used in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy to help reprocess memories and lessen the distressing feelings associated with them. The idea behind EMDR is that our brains cannot appropriately absorb traumatic experiences, leading to negative self- and external beliefs.
EMDR is supposed to collaborate with the brain’s natural healing process to help reprocess these memories more beneficially. Like other illnesses, EMDR has been proven helpful in treating addiction. Addiction treatment patients who used it reported less anxiety, despair, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Components of Evidence-Based Rehab Treatment Models
While no two theories for rehabilitation are the same, there are certain commonalities. The models are time-bound and aim to teach clients how to maintain their health in the long run.
Clinicians offer information about a patient’s health concerns by shedding light on potential causes, early warning signs, and symptoms. The goal is to help patients become more self-aware to meet their needs better and deal with issues as they arise.
Developing Coping Mechanisms
During treatment, clients develop the ability to cope with and tolerate emotional suffering. To be better prepared when confronted with triggers, they consistently practice these skills during periods of relative calm.
Aftercare Services and Relapse Prevention
Clients get ready to be discharged once they have shown persistent symptom improvement. They should have the knowledge and tools to handle their problems independently. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two of the most popular support groups made up of people who can relate to each other’s experiences with substance abuse and can help each other achieve sobriety and stay sober.
They are not considered therapy or behavioral treatments because medical professionals do not direct them. Twelve-step like Alcoholics Anonymous and non-twelve-step groups like SMART Recovery are examples of mutual support group organizations for AUD treatment. These gatherings are widely accessible at cheap or no cost, conveniently, and increasingly online in many areas.
The Goal of Evidence Based Drug and Alcohol Treatment
While research supports the efficacy of evidence-based rehab practices, not all therapy options are appropriate for every patient. There is no one-size-fits-all cure, but there are increasingly diverse approaches as new models appear. An individual’s long-term sobriety is the ultimate aim of evidence-based rehabilitation, which is why its approaches must be as practical as possible.
However, the rehabilitation process may take on various forms for various people. While many people struggling with addiction experience relapse, this is not the case for everyone. A relapse is not indicative of a lack of willpower. Recognizing the setback and making amends are crucial steps to recovery. Based on scientific evidence, rehab is conducted to enhance the patient’s well-being and social and emotional connections. Another goal is to curb harmful actions before they can have an adverse effect.
Providers have a shared understanding of what treatments are effective based on data and anecdotal evidence, and they are constantly researching and testing novel approaches.
Reclaim Your Life from Addiction
Substance abuse disorder is a complex condition that can completely devastate a person’s life and the lives of their loved ones. Although there is no universally effective treatment method, it is essential to find support from a tried-and-true approach.
Evidence-based techniques have been demonstrated to excel over conventional treatment methods reducing drug use and cravings, enhancing family functioning, and decreasing the risk of relapse. If you or someone you know has an addiction problem, get the help you deserve today.
Call us today for professional medical advice on evidence-based drug addiction treatment in Nevada!