Support and Advance Effective Treatment

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Introductory Paragraph

Alcohol and substance abuse are commonly treated with talk therapy, medications and support groups. Alcohol and substance use impacts not just the user but the entire family. There are several evidence-based therapies for alcohol and drug misuse. The most common evidence-based therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or a 12 step-program. Medication-assisted treatments have proven effective in treatment of opioid use disorder. Medication in combination with talk therapy can reduce withdrawal symptoms and promote long-term recovery.


Key Information

According to a 2019 national survey, about 14.5 million people ages 12 and over in the United States had an alcohol use disorder and 8.3 million people had a substance use disorder within the past year.[1] Effective treatments support long-term recovery and promote abstinence as well as improvements in work, family, relationships, and overall mental health and well-being.

Substance use disorders are treated to meet the needs of the individual and may include the following:[2]

  • Therapy (Individual, Group, Couples & Families)
  • Medications
  • A combination of therapy and medications
  • Peer Support programs
  • 12 Step or Recovery Programs
  • Family Support & Family recovery Programs

Evidence-based treatment that has been researched and scientifically proven include talk therapy and several modalities proven to be effective with treatment of substance use disorder.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is therapy during which you meet one to one with a therapist and is proven to reduce substance use and have a positive impact for life improvements. CBT is also proven with trauma which may coincide with substance use disorders. [3]
  • 12-step therapy programs: Twelve-step programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) are self-help group therapy programs are evidence based in assisting with maintaining sobriety.[4]
  • Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a combination of medications and talk therapy. Depending on the substance MAT can be an option for recovery from alcohol and opioid use and is an effective evidence based treatment.[5]

There are both outpatient and inpatient treatment options including residential treatment depending on what is best suited for level of care for an individual. Some treatments and substance use disorders may require detox either as outpatient or inpatient and based on a medical professionals advice.

Relevant Research

Evaluating Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Effectiveness: Recent Advances [6]

Therapeutic Communities Research Report- What Are Therapeutic Communities?[7]

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) What is drug addiction treatment?[8]

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide [9]

Variations in therapist effectiveness in the treatment of patients with substance use disorders: an empirical review[10]

Impactful Federal, State, and Local Policies

SAMHSA Programs, Grants & Treatment Services Locator: SAMHSA’s National Helpline[11]

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report[12]

The STOP Act- Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act[13]

Available Tools and Resources

SAMHSA Treatment Locator[14] Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, a confidential and anonymous source of information for persons seeking treatment facilities in the United States or U.S. Territories for substance use/addiction and/or mental health problems.

SAMHSA Understanding Treatment Options[15] A resource for searching treatment options as well as information for understanding treatment, paying for treatment and understand mental health and addiction.

SAFE Treatment and Family Support Locator[16] Find critical resources and options best matched to your needs or the needs of a loved one

SAMHSA Evidence Based Best Practices Resource Center[17] Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center provides communities, clinicians, policy-makers and others with the information and tools to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings

Promising Practices

American Addiction Centers Treatment Solutions[18] Addiction treatment resource provided by American Addiction Centers (AAC), dedicated to helping you find treatment solutions that meet your needs

Selecting Best-fit Programs and Practices: Guidance for Substance Misuse Prevention Practitioners[19] This resource places the selection of programs and practices within the broader context of evidence-based prevention. It provides the following:

  • The value of embedding program and practice selection in a strategic planning process
  • Where to find information on programs and practices and how to choose among them
  • Tips for adopting, adapting, and innovating programs and practices and for supporting their successful implementation and continual improvement at the local level

Betty Ford Center: Navigate Treatment Options[20] Provides addiction and treatment FAQS as well as evaluates new methods based on developments in neurobiology and behavioral health, integrating practices within a best practice bio-psycho-social-spiritual treatment model.

Promising Practices Guidelines for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment[21]

Best Practices and Barriers to Engaging People with Substance Use Disorders in Treatment[22]

Municipal Alliance Services: Prevention Education Programs for Substance Abuse[23] The Municipal Alliances provides prevention education programs, which meet their community’s particular needs. These include: Parenting Workshops - to enhance parent’s ability to assist their children to live a healthy and drug free lifestyle.

  • Peer Leadership Programs - training to help students develop leadership skills and goal oriented behaviors. The Peer Leaders become role models and helpers to other students.
  • Drug Awareness Events - to offer families and community members drug and alcohol free activities while providing information about substance abuse and community-wide prevention programs.
  • Drug Use and Misuse in the Elderly- Medicines can interact with other medicines including over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, vitamins, herbs, foods and beverages including alcohol or with other medical conditions. These interactions can cause unexpected side effects and can make a medicine less effective or even harmful to you. Our local professionals within our community present this program in conjunction with the Division of Senior Services.

North Jersey Health Collaborative Pushback Against Drug Abuse[24] This is a substance abuse prevention coalition that is funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug Free Communities (DFC). DFC community coalitions use evidence-informed strategies that have been shown to be effective in reducing substance use. The AOD Partnership implemented Pushback Against Drug Abuse, a county-wide public awareness initiative to reduce illicit drug abuse.