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Evidence-Based Treatment

Evidence-Based Treatment

EBT and Science

Evidence-based treatment (EBT) is a treatment approach based directly on scientific evidence gathered from research and studies into specific treatment practices. EBT supports the practice of safe and effective treatment and prevents the use of unproven or unsafe treatments. When an individual is struggling with substance addiction and and they or their loved ones are seeking treatment,  they want to find the program most likely to achieve results. EBT is designed around the patient and aims to address specific aspects of drug addiction and its consequences for the patient, their family, and other loved ones. Evidence-based or scientifically-proven programs are the best path to long-term recovery.

It can be confusing to decipher exactly what evidence-based and scientifically sound treatment is. In short, EBT encompasses practices that have been previously observed to be successful. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to have long-term effectiveness in helping patients overcome substance abuse and prevent relapse and is therefore considered an evidence-based approach. Scientifically sound means that the research on the treatment exercised true experimental design and data analysis methods. It has been peer reviewed and proven to have consistent results. When searching for a substance abuse treatment there can be an overwhelming amount of options. To make the best choice, you need reliable information, in particular, evidence for the successful performance of a particular treatment.

Pharmacotherapy and Behavioral Therapy

Evidence-based approaches to drug addiction treatment include pharmacotherapy and behavioral therapy. Pharmacotherapy utilizes pharmaceutical drugs or medications to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and the probability of relapse. Pharmacotherapeutic approaches play an important role in the treatment of drug dependence, including nicotine replacement and heroin substitution. Pharmacotherapy alone does not result in the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve sobriety and long-term recovery, but is complimented by behavioral therapy practices. Behavioral therapies such as CBT and 12-Step Facilitation Therapy work together with pharmacotherapy to ensure recovery and prevent relapse.

Why EBT?

In order to overcome their drug addiction, it is important that the individual choose the right treatment. Especially when they are motivated to quit, individuals need to make the best choice for themselves. To do so, it is essential that the individual has sufficient information to make an informed decision, including data that is valid and reliable. Keep in mind that while searching for substance addiction treatment, you might come across other alternative, unorthodox therapy practices or even scams that might sound reasonable but are not actually effective. This can lead to wasted time, money, and energy. Instead, look for quality research and evidence to decide on a treatment. By choosing an evidence-based treatment, you are putting yourself in the best position for successful recovery.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1997. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 24.) Appendix A—
Pharmacotherapy. Available from:

NIDA (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

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