In today’s world of addiction treatment, there is a combined use of evidence-based and experiential treatments. Both have numerous benefits for those in recovery. However, only the evidence-based treatments have been scientifically and academically researched to prove their effectiveness. This does not mean that experiential therapies are less valid or less beneficial, only that they are just newer and experiential.
That being said, evidence-based treatments are extremely important in addiction treatment and recovery. Understanding the different types of evidence-based treatments and what they entail will give you a better understanding of what kinds of treatment programs and therapies are best for you.
Evidence-Based Treatments Defined
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, evidence-based treatments are those that are researched academically or scientifically, are effective, and were replicated by other studies as well. They use scientifically proven methods to give the best possible treatment to patients.
Evidence-based treatments are good for addiction because every person’s journey is different. Because of various scientific studies and experiments proving the effectiveness of these treatments, individuals are able to get the help they require without taking part in treatments that would not help their recovery journey. Mental health professionals are able to use a combination of various treatments that will treat a person’s addiction effectively.
Types of Evidence-Based Treatments
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a type of talk therapy that uses sessions with a counselor. Using goals to direct the progress of the sessions, CBT is used to help individuals prevent relapse, overcome trauma, and learn to be vulnerable. It gives the client a new perspective on how to cope with the hardships of life. The techniques that are used help teach the client stress management, relaxation, assertiveness, and resilience.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR is used to help heal symptoms of trauma. The program is composed of eight phases that involve the participant recalling traumatic events while their eye movement is directed by the therapist. This helps the patient detach the harsh memories and feelings from one another so they can look back without getting overwhelmed. Ultimately, the patient is given the proper tools to help cope with future events.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on behavioral skills rather than talking through past traumas and vulnerability. Patients learn the proper ways to regulate their emotions, resolve conflict in their lives, manage stress, and improve their relationships. This is done through different behavioral techniques and practices focusing on the following four areas:
- Distress Tolerance consists of acknowledging negative emotions and learning to cope with them.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness entails learning to assert yourself better and making self-respect a priority.
- Mindfulness entails learning to be present and aware in the current moment.
- Emotion Regulation consists of knowing how to manage strong emotions as they come.
Individual & Group Counseling
Perhaps one of the most well-known forms of evidence-based treatment is counseling. Counseling can take place in a one-on-one session or in a group session, depending on what needs to be discussed and what is seen as helpful for the individual. Often, people partake in both forms of counseling.
Speaking with a counselor allows a person to understand the roots of their addiction and how to overcome them. In group sessions, participants can empathize with one another and learn various techniques and encouragements they may not have known before.
Exposure therapy helps individuals overcome their fears by exposing themselves to what they are afraid of in a safe and controlled environment. It is best for those with certain phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety. The thought is that exposing individuals to the things they fear in this safe environment with a therapist will, over time, reduce the fear.
Those in addiction recovery learn various techniques for preventing relapse in whatever program they are participating in. However, relapse prevention focuses on a particular approach by pointing out certain triggers and ways to cope with them. Different strategies are used, some common ones being:
- Learning how to say no
- Building confidence to overcome addiction
- Properly coping with potential triggers
- Being prepared for emergencies such as withdrawal, cravings, and more
- Questioning the positives people claim to be associated with drug abuse
- Knowing how to avoid falling into thinking traps
Motivational interviewing is also about learning to manage, control, and change your behavior. This is especially helpful for those in addiction recovery, as it teaches them to change behaviors that are damaging to their mental, physical, and psychological health. For those that are not excited about going through treatment, this is often a great first step.
Choosing the Best Treatment
Finding the best treatment for you and your current situation is best done by talking with a mental health professional. This way, the professional can evaluate your needs and concerns and create an individualized treatment plan for you. Treatment centers typically do this upon your entrance to the program.
Differing from experiential therapy treatments, evidence-based therapies are based upon scientific and academic research, repeated results, and their effectiveness. Many people recovering from addiction have benefited from evidence-based treatments, learning how to cope with triggers, and understanding the roots of their addiction. There are a number of evidence-based treatments that can be used to treat patients, usually used in combination with others, as part of an individual’s treatment plan. The types of treatments used are the ones that are seen as most beneficial to the patient based on their needs. To learn more about evidence-based treatments and the ones provided at Northstar Transitions, contact the center today at (303) 558-6400.