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Does Evidence-Based Therapy Work?

Table of Contents

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, evidence-based therapy approaches are treatment programs that have been scholarly or scientifically researched and replicated by more than one study for proven effectiveness.1 These types of therapy approaches are used to help make treatment work more effectively for patients, whether or not it’s used in conjunction with medication.
Measurements of Effectiveness
The criterion for the effectiveness of any psychological therapy for addiction treatment is that it leads to a reduction in the use of an addictive substance, plus the patient shows improvements across a range of areas of functioning, such as physical and psychological health, interpersonal relationships, employment and decreasing undesirable behavior.2
Types of Evidence-Based Therapy
Therapy based on scientific and academic research studies can be very effective for a variety of disorders, including addiction and mental health disorders. Behavioral therapies help people in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction.3 Just a few of the types of evidence-based therapy that are helpful in addiction recovery include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Contingency Management Interventions and Motivational Incentives
Community Reinforcement Approach with Vouchers
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
The Matrix Model
12-Step Therapy
Family Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT has been proven to be an effective psychotherapeutic approach in addiction treatment. This therapeutic approach also helps those with a dual diagnosis of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or other mental health disorder.

CBT is an evidence-based therapy that helps patients change their thought processes and challenges their destructive beliefs that affect self-esteem and lead to damaging activities, such as turning to drug use. Patients learn coping strategies when dealing with cravings and social situations where drugs or alcohol are around. As a relapse prevention treatment approach, CBT has shown effectiveness in reducing drug use after drug addiction treatment.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Motivational enhancement therapy attempts to increase a person’s incentive to stop using substances. A positive self-view and confidence in their ability to overcome addiction is highly encouraged. This short-term treatment helps patients establish clear goals for change while also providing education about health risks associated with addiction.

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This evidence-based therapy works because it is based upon self-motivation. Someone who truly wants to recover will benefit the most from motivational enhancement therapy. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism finds this type of therapy to be the most effective in helping patients focus on the wellness and relationship benefits that go hand-in-hand with sobriety.
Family Behavior Therapy
Family Behavior Therapy has shown positive results for both adults and young people in recovery. Behavioral issues as well as substance abuse are addressed using this approach. At least one family member is involved in treatment planning. Family members are encouraged to use strategies taught for behavioral management to avoid risk of relapse. At each session of family behavior therapy, goals are reviewed and rewards are given as an incentive for continued success.


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