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What Does “Evidence-based” Mean and Why Does It Matter?

You may have seen that the Trump administration has banned the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies from using the terms “evidence-based” and “science-based” in their budgets. What do these terms mean and why are they important?

Evidence-based, or science-based methods are an important component of addiction recovery. Simply put, evidence is how we know whether a treatment actually works. It seems like it should be a trivial matter to determine whether an addiction treatment works. You treat some people and see if they get better. In practice, though, it’s not simple at all. Any treatment will work for someone, and no treatment will work for everyone.

Figuring out what treatments are better than others is the real goal of research. In order for an approach to count as evidence based, it should have supporting studies published in peer-reviewed journals to make sure the study was sound, its results should ideally be replicated by other studies, and it must include a methodology that therapists and treatment centers can actually apply.

There are several reasons evidence-based treatment is important. First and foremost, addiction is an emergency. You want to get into recovery as soon as possible and stay there for as long as possible. Relapses are dangerous because they increase risk of overdose and they make getting treatment even harder. If you can use a therapy that works for 60 percent of people instead of 50 percent, that makes a big difference.

Second, treatment costs time and money. No one wants to waste time and money on treatments that may or may not make any difference. This is particularly important when it comes to public programs. These are perpetually on the block, and no one wants to waste taxpayer money on ineffective treatments, especially when half of Americans don’t want to spend any money on treatment at all.

Third, addiction medicine is a relatively new field, and there is little regulation of treatment centers. It’s fairly easy to make a few bucks putting up a shingle and advertising a miracle addiction cure. It’s important, when looking for a detox or treatment center to be sure they use methods supported by peer-reviewed research. Addiction research is an active field and it takes effort to keep up with the latest research. Some of the most widely used methods that are backed by research include Cognitive Behavioral therapy, or CBT, Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, and a variety of motivational therapies.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.