What is Evidence-Based Treatment?

Simply put, evidence-based treatment or evidence-based therapy (EBT) is a mental health treatment that is backed by scientific evidence. This means a treatment has been found to be safe and effective based on carefully designed research studies.

Evidence-based medicine dates back to many centuries. However, the term evidence-based treatment became popular in the 1990s when healthcare professionals began to pay attention to the value of using scientific evidence to support medical decisions. At present, evidence-based treatment refers to the practice of clinical decision-making that is based on published research findings. It is defined as the conscientious and judicious use of available best evidence to make healthcare decisions about individual patients

In this article, we discuss:

A key feature of evidence-based treatment is that it involves a combination of the healthcare provider’s personal experience along with the available data gleaned from various scientific investigations, also keeping in mind the pertinence of these research findings to the patient’s unique clinical state and circumstances. In other words, evidence-based treatment is a comprehensive, scientific, and judicious method of treatment that implements research findings in clinical practice. Evidence-based medicine is widely used in the treatment of substance use disorders because of its efficacy, benefits, and cost-effectiveness.

Principles of Effective Addiction Treatment

Leading Washington drug rehabs like Discover Recovery offer evidence based treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Some of the basic principles that are followed for effective addiction treatment are listed below.

No single treatment works for everyone. Meaning, evidence based treatment must match the patient’s situation, the type of drug, and the treatment setting. This is critical for ultimate success in helping a recovering addict return to living a productive, healthy life.

Another factor that’s important for substance abuse treatment to be effective is that evidence based treatment should be started as soon as possible. Addiction is a chronic disease and the sooner treatment is started, the greater the chance of positive outcomes. Therefore, people need to take advantage of programs at a Washington drug rehab facility as soon as they can. Delaying treatment could lead to the development of serious health complications that can make addiction treatment less effective.

Research has shown that remaining in evidence based treatment for an adequate length of time is essential for success. Most people with addiction need at least 3 months of therapy to significantly reduce or stop drug use. It is, therefore, important not to expect a quick fix. Rather, recovering addicts and their family members should understand that addiction treatment is a long-term process and may involve relapses and the need to return to therapy.

Last but not least, evidence based treatment should address the multiple needs of a person rather than simply treating the addiction. This means the treatment should address associated psychological, medical, social, professional, and legal problems.

Evidence Based Pharmacotherapy

Evidence based treatment with pharmacotherapy (medications) is commonly used to treat tobacco, alcohol, and opioid addiction. Various formulations of nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gum, sprays, and lozenges provide low and stable levels of nicotine to people who are trying to quit smoking. Research has shown that this type of treatment can prevent withdrawal symptoms and keep people motivated to quit.

The FDA has approved several medications to treat alcohol addiction. Naltrexone is an evidence based treatment that is known to reduce relapse by decreasing cravings for alcohol. Acamprosate is another medication used during alcohol rehab because it reduces withdrawal symptoms. Disulfiram or Antabuse promotes abstinence by producing unpleasant symptoms when a person drinks alcohol. These drugs are used in combination with behavioral therapies for alcoholism treatment.

People with opioid addiction can benefit from evidence based treatment. This involves using long-acting opioids to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Methadone maintenance is widely accepted as an effective treatment to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in opioid-addicted individuals. Research has shown that methadone maintenance is even more effective when combined with behavioral therapies.

Evidence Based Behavioral Therapies

Once a person has undergone medical detox, behavioral therapies play a critical role in helping that person remain motivated to stay clean. For this reason, behavioral therapies are widely used as an evidence-based treatment for people with behavioral health issues and addictions. The goal of psychotherapy is to improve life skills and reduce the risk of relapse. Behavioral therapies help recovering addicts learn strategies and skills to handle stress, triggers, environmental cues, and cravings that can lead to another cycle of harmful drug use. Various types of behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management, motivational incentives, community reinforcement, 12-step programs, and family therapy programs are used as part of evidence-based treatment for recovering addicts.

Evidence-Based Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

People with addiction experience severe, uncontrolled cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behaviors despite the devastating consequences of their substance abuse. To overcome this challenging problem, such individuals need evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. In this article, we discuss the meaning of evidence-based treatment and how it can help you or a loved one overcome drug or alcohol abuse.

The Benefits of Evidence-Based Therapy

As evidence-based therapy utilizes scientific research-driven evidence rather than practitioners’ own judgment, it can support swift clinical decision-making. Evidence-based interventions help create recommendations, databases, and therapeutic tools based on available research that prove instrumental in making well-informed critical treatment decisions at evidence-based therapy clinics. Therapists who actively employ this form of treatment in their clinical psychology practice can significantly save time and resources. Other than the fundamental goal of enhancing the quality of treatment and yielding more positive results (as stated by The American Psychological Association), there are many benefits of using this therapy:

1. Evidence-based care is safe and ethical.

Instead of being solely dependent on the therapists’ personal opinions, evidence-based therapy offers a framework for providing care based on robust research. This helps lower the chances of bias so that subjective experience does not influence the treatment’s outcome. Evidence-based practice in psychology carefully combines the power of clinical data with professional judgment and experience. The ultimate objective of this form of therapy is to provide clients with psychotherapies that are safe, and this comes with an enhanced accountability of the healthcare professional.

2. People feel better faster with evidence-based psychotherapy.

Central to evidence-based practice is the practice of measuring results. Studies show that evidence-based therapies are highly effective in diminishing symptoms and improving the overall quality of life, with the positive results being sustainable over a long period. Many evidence-based treatments relieve symptoms and produce results in the first 12 sessions. This is how effectively these therapies can alleviate symptoms through an evidence-based approach.

3. Evidence-based counseling is cost-effective.

Evidence-based therapies can be more cost-effective than other treatment methods, particularly traditional ones, due to their proven effectiveness and short duration. Research has shown that these therapies can offer a return on investment as it enhances the productivity of clinicians and the efficiency of treatment, helping with medical cost savings while ensuring increased life satisfaction.

4. Evidence-based therapy can be used to treat a wide range of mental health disorders in a variety of settings.

While many people may seek therapy to help them understand and navigate different life issues, evidence-based therapies are specially designed to treat symptoms and diseases. Several evidence-based treatments exist for most types of mental health conditions, such as substance use disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others. People of all ages, including adolescents and young adults, can opt for these therapies in counseling centers, hospitals, clinics, schools, rehabilitation centers, and other settings based on their specific needs.

5. With evidence-based practice counseling, care is tailored to each client.

Evidence-based therapies are designed to be flexible and enable therapists to individualize treatment based on each client’s needs, values, goals, and preferences. These therapies take a collaborative approach to offer clients ample opportunity to voice their concerns and ask for a tailored treatment plan. This client-focused, goal-oriented approach to providing the necessary care empowers both the mental health provider and the individual undergoing therapy.

Examples of Interventions Used in Evidence-Based Therapy

As per evidence-based therapy (EBT), therapists must utilize the best available scientific evidence to offer optimal treatment, increasing the chances of positive outcomes. Therapists should also regularly monitor and evaluate clients’ responses to treatment, adjusting interventions based on “the content, sequencing, timing, or pacing of treatment elements” as necessary. The therapeutic interventions mentioned below use evidence-led, research-driven approaches, taking into account the unique needs and circumstances of the client.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive Therapy, also known as cognitive restructuring, is a therapy that focuses on recognizing and changing unhealthy and distorted thought patterns that fuel negative emotions and behaviors. When merged with behavior therapy, it establishes a foundation for cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Cognitive therapy interventions for individuals, including children, adolescents, and young adults, and families are validated and well-accepted across different areas.


With psychoeducation, clients are trained to monitor their thoughts and feelings on their own in order to understand their responses to things that trigger negative thinking. This area deals with encouraging individuals to identify their short and long-term goals based on the explanation of cognitive therapy and its processes.

Cognitive control training

This enhances cognitive control processes to achieve increased cognitive flexibility, emotional regulation, and attentional control while reducing maladaptive thought and behavioral patterns that stem from mental health issues. A notable example of cognitive control training is the Stroop task, which involves saying the color of words while disregarding the actual meaning. This task can be challenging due to the interference between automatic reading and controlled processing.

Cognitive restructuring interventions

Cognitive restructuring or cognitive change interventions refers to the practice of challenging and changing negative or distorted thought patterns, which has proved effective in improving mental health conditions such as depression.

Behavior Therapy

According to the American Psychological Association, behavior therapy should help individuals eliminate and change maladaptive behavioral patterns. Only limited recent research about behavior therapy is available, as it has now been combined with cognitive therapy practice to create cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and it has garnered considerable attention.

Behavioral activation

Behavioral activation offers a potent tool for dealing with and overcoming depression. In depression, a person often experiences low motivation and withdraws from activities they once liked engaging in. Behavioral activation facilitates the daily monitoring of clients’ activities, helping observe their enjoyment and then scheduling activities that boost their interest.

Token economy

With proven success, this is aimed at minimizing unwelcome classroom behavior. It utilizes tokens or points as rewards that can be given for items or privileges to reinforce desired behaviors.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a group therapy that focuses on helping family members improve communication, support one another, and work through conflicts in a calm and understanding manner, improving their interpersonal relationships. Family therapy-based interventions are aimed at effectively addressing relationship distress, psychosexual problems, intimate partner violence, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, alcohol problems, schizophrenia, and issues related to adjusting to chronic physical illness. These interventions include:

The miracle question

This is a solution-focused approach that involves asking family members to visualize a possible world where their problems are already resolved. This prompting has proven effective in contrasting successful therapeutic outcomes and motivating clients to work collaboratively toward shared goals.


Mapping family relationships as done in this technique has proven effective in recognizing and modifying ineffectual behavioral patterns that have existed across past and present generations. This modality aids therapists and families in working together to understand the sources of emotional problems and find possible solutions.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an empirically supported intervention that employs commitment and behavior-change modalities coupled with acceptance and mindfulness techniques to foster psychological flexibility. An example of psychological flexibility is being emotionally open and able to modify your thoughts and feelings to engage in behaviors that are in alignment with your beliefs and values.

Through intelligent, imaginative, and amusing exercises, ACT encourages clients to analyze their actions and determine whether they are effectively solving the problem. This motivates the clients to assess the traumatic events, dysfunctional relationships, physical restrictions, or other challenges in their lives and identify beliefs and behavioral changes that can help transform the circumstances.

Mindfulness and acceptance

Instead of trying to avoid or reject your thoughts and feelings, you should face and embrace them. Acknowledging and not criticizing yourself for your negative thoughts and feelings in the present moment is key to altering them.

Cognitive defusion

You should distance yourself from upsetting thoughts and feelings and adjust your reactions to them to reduce their negative impact. Your values in various areas of life are established when you try to live according to certain ideals.

Committed action

Once negative thought and feeling patterns have been identified, you must take meaningful actions to create positive changes that align with your values.

Effectiveness of Evidence-Based Treatments

Sometimes, your therapy sessions may not make you feel better immediately. The deep emotional work and soul-searching involved in the treatment process can sometimes leave you feeling worn out and emotionally drained afterward. As much as it may seem like a struggle, the long-term benefits achieved will outweigh the effects of these sessions.

To track the effectiveness of therapy, you can ask yourself the following questions to understand your progress and ensure you are well on your way to making the desired improvements:

  • Do I feel hopeful?
  • Am I able to come up with new ideas or approach things differently?
  • Are my relationships getting better?
  • Am I able to effectively use the tools and resources my therapist gives me outside of therapy?
  • Do I feel more resilient and able to bounce back from difficult situations?

Research indicates that most individuals who receive evidence-based therapy experience a decrease in their symptoms and are able to function better in their lives. When people begin psychotherapy, about 75% of them experience a positive change. Evidence-based therapy has been proven to positively impact emotions and actions, resulting in positive changes in the brain and body. 

In addition to this, people undergoing evidence-based treatment also report fewer sick days, disability claims, and health issues. They also have higher job satisfaction and find themselves in a better place than 80% of those who do not go for any treatment at all.

Evidence Based Treatment in Washington at Discover Recovery

Discover Recovery is a leading residential drug rehab facility located in Long Beach, Washington. We are staffed by a highly experienced team of healthcare professionals, including addiction medicine specialists, board-certified physicians, masters level counselors, and registered nurses.

At Discover Recovery, we use evidence based treatment to help people struggling with a variety of addictions, including alcohol, oxycodone, Xanax, opioids, meth, cocaine, and heroin addiction. Our evidence based treatment program includes the use of FDA-approved medications. We also offer a range of behavioral therapies that have proven effectiveness and positive outcomes.

If you or a loved one is battling addiction, evidence based treatment can help you get your life back in order. Get in touch with Discover Recovery today to learn more about your treatment options.

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At Discover Recovery, we work with a wide variety of health insurance providers so those in need can get access to the treatment they need. That means you (or your loved one) won’t have to worry about covering the cost of treatment. Instead, all of your energy and focus can be spent where it’s really needed, which is on overcoming addiction.

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