What Does Evidence-Based Recovery Model Really Mean

“Evidence-based model” has become such a popular buzzword in the mental health community that it is often thrown around without any explanation as to what it means. While the name provides a clue, the details get often lost or go unexplained to the general community.

Read on to learn about the history and components of common evidence-based treatment models.


Evidence-based treatment practices originated long ago in the medical field but did not gain popularity until the term became widely used in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, the development of treatment models based on evidence from scientific research expanded to many different fields, including mental health and substance abuse.

Generally, evidence-based practices incorporate

  • Evidence from research
  • Clinical expertise
  • The patient’s individual needs and preferences

This decision-making process provides a framework for clinicians to determine the best possible treatment model for each patient by conducting clinical assessments, referencing research and collaborating with the patient.

Evidence-Based Models in Practice

Evidence-based treatment models address such disorders as PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse as well as co-occurring disorders. They are usually short-term interventions that run for a specified number of sessions or weeks.

Treatment can be done with individuals, families or groups, depending on the model. They can occur in different settings, such as an outpatient clinic, residential treatment facility, rehab or a patient’s home. Many can be used throughout the life span, while some need to be adapted for certain age groups.

Some common evidence-based models used with adults include

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Motivational Interviewing

Most evidence-based models require extensive training to properly implement specific interventions using different steps and tools. This allows practitioners to guide interventions in a consistent, systematic manner.

Common Components of Evidence-Based Models

While all models vary, there are core components that can be found in many. Because they are time-limited, the models are designed to equip patients with the necessary skills to manage their wellness over time.


Clinicians present information relevant to the patients’ health issues, which allows for insight into triggers, warning signs and symptoms. The intent is for patients to gain self-awareness, identify their needs and address problem areas.

Skills Training

Patients learn how to manage their symptoms using appropriate coping mechanisms and distress-tolerance skills. They practice these skills on a consistent basis during calm periods in order to be better prepared in the presence of triggers.

Maintenance and Relapse-Prevention

Once patients demonstrate consistent alleviation from symptoms, they prepare for termination. Patients at this time should have the skills to independently manage their symptoms over time.


While evidence-based models are backed by research, not every treatment method is going to work for everyone. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment, but there are many options available, especially as more models emerge. Therefore, it is important to consult a professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist who provides clinical services.

The Four Necessary Aspects of Comprehensive Addiction Recovery

It is no secret that substance abuse takes a toll on an individual, but the damage might not always be obvious. Usually, the problems that stick out are physical symptoms. Even medical issues that are not visible from the outside, such as liver disease and hepatitis, can be observed and are easily measured by medical professionals.

What might not be as evident are three other detrimental effects that active addiction can have on a person. Using also harms a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Therefore, recovery must address all four of these areas, in order to be comprehensive and successful in the long term. The good news is that there is hope. Keep reading to learn the many techniques and resources that are readily available.

The Physical

In active addiction, it is common for people to neglect their medical needs. Start by seeking medical attention for any issues that have not been addressed, and continue with regular check-ups and preventative care.

Maintaining physical wellness over time also requires a healthy routine:

  • Eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day
  • Exercise, which can be as simple as walking)
  • Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night

The Mental

Prolonged substance abuse can affect the brain and have a negative impact on mental functioning. While some conditions are irreversible or require medication, there are steps you can take to improve clarity and reasoning:

  • Read
  • Play word games
  • Do jigsaw puzzles and other activities that require concentration
  • Perform activities that require hand-eye coordination and improve motor skills
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in caffeine

The Emotional

Regular substance use interferes with a person’s ability to experience and process emotions. Mood swings and anxiety are common in early recovery.

Especially in the beginning, the focus should be on stabilizing moods and learning how to cope with the natural ups and downs of life:

  • Develop a support network
  • Identify triggers
  • Practice coping skills

The Spiritual

The spiritual aspect of addiction and recovery is not necessarily tied to religion. Some people say that they experience an empty feeling, a hole that they were trying to fill by using drugs and alcohol. People sometimes refer to this as a ““spiritual void.”

In order to avoid relapsing or replacing substances with other addictive behaviors, it is important to fill that void with spiritual practices and principles:

  • Pray or reach out to a higher power
  • Meditate and reflect on thoughts and behaviors
  • Connect with other people in recovery
  • Do service work to reach out to help someone else 

Recovery takes effort, and some areas might be harder than others. It is often recommended that people get involved in a 12-step program or Refuge Recovery, as they provide support and tools for lasting recovery. Regardless of your method, the key to maintaining over time is to regularly address the four domains outlined above.

Is Residential Addiction Treatment Right for You?

There are many questions to ask before entering residential addiction treatment.

First and foremost, admitting there is a real problem with drugs or alcohol is vital to making the first step in recovery. In order to come to such a conclusion, there are several questions on the website of Alcoholics Anonymous that may help in discovering whether one feels they are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

Some questions include:

  •  Have you ever tried to stop drinking and been unable to do so?
  •  Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
  •  Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?

Once a self-diagnosis has been made, deciding whether or not residential treatment is right for you is a pivotal step. Removing oneself and relocating to a different environment can be incredibly helpful in arresting the addictive behavior and adjusting to abstaining from drugs and/or alcohol. Inpatient treatment facilities require those in recovery to live at the rehab center for the duration of the stay, attending meetings at the facility, group sessions and individual sessions, allowing for recovery to be the sole focus for that period of time.

Finding the proper treatment facility is an important step in the process toward long-term recovery. The success rate increases dramatically for those who stay in programs up to 30 days and beyond. The minimum recommended length of stay from most professionals is 30 days. During that length of time, a person is able to adjust to the physical stability of living without drugs and alcohol, while assimilating to the lifestyle changes inherent in joining the recovery community.

What Happens After Residential Addiction Treatment?

After residential treatment, aftercare, or outpatient treatment, is also available. This option will increase the likelihood of staying sober and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and attitude. There are many additional therapeutic options at residential facilities, which include individual therapy and group therapy, which can be continued after graduation from a residential treatment facility.

Safety, comfort, dedicated individual care, detox, and community are all critical elements in the recovery process. Each of these facets of recovery are offered at a residential treatment facility.

Discovering whether treatment is right for you may come down to several factors, which may include price, location, chosen profession, and family relations. Depending on the length of stay, each of these life areas may be amenable to the change required in an effort to achieve sobriety. Family members are often very supportive and many jobs often include an option, which supports recovery. Healthcare providers and insurance companies are also much more available to offering recovery options.

Ultimately, the decision is personal. Finding the right place that suits your needs and meets your sensibilities is a wonderful discovery on the road to recovery.

How Residential Addiction Treatment Works


Residential addiction treatment facilities are as varied as college campuses. Finding the right match is a detailed process, which involves research and discovery.

Getting There

Perhaps you’ve visited the residential treatment facility. Perhaps you’ve spoken to an addiction specialist over the phone. The first thing you have to do is arrive.

Private transportation can be provided, especially if the client is arriving from the airport; a car service can also be arranged, depending on the departure location and preference of the client. Other clients choose to have family members or loved ones take them to residential treatment for the first time.

First Days

Upon arrival, a team of well-trained, caring staff members will greet and assist the client with accommodations. Getting settled in is an important part of the arrival process. Feeling comfortable in new surroundings and getting to know fellow residents will assist in the transition, so you can feel at home. Daily meals are one of the specialties of some treatment facilities and many offer private chefs with specialized dining plans. The first evening can be a delicious discovery of the types of nutritional benefits of attending a residential treatment facility. Read about the Summit Difference Here


As the staff will kindly let you know, the daily regiment in treatment includes a routine, which offers comfort and stability, with room for variation. Depending on the special activities offered at the facility, daily schedules may vary. One day may include equine therapy, while another, a trip to the beach for an outdoor excursion. Most days will include the basic tenets of the recovery center’s mission and philosophy: individualized therapy, group therapy, 12-step meetings, exercise, and leisure activities as part of a daily regiment.


Each day or week may include additional therapy sessions to enhance the experience in treatment. For instance, family group therapy will support the experience, increasing the likelihood of long-term sobriety for the client, offering a greater chance for the family to recover, as well. At various points throughout the client’s stay, meetings with counselors and individual therapists will aid in the development process. Clients can assess their growth and discover new tools to use in their daily lives.

At a certain point in treatment, the client may discuss with a counselor possible plans for the future: living accommodations, family arrangements, professional questions, social adjustments, and potential aftercare. Clients may decide to stay at residential treatment for 30 days or six months, depending on the level of care necessary. In 12-step meetings, 30, 60, and 90 days are used as markers to denote different levels of growth in sobriety. At six months, a client may feel much stronger in their recovery and will have returned to a much more stable style of living and being.

The Future

Upon graduation of a residential treatment program, clients may keep in contact with the residential treatment facility, after they have left. Perhaps there are on-campus meetings to attend or a particular staff member to visit.

On a daily basis, residential treatment works to serve the greatest good of the client, meeting their needs and adjusting to their strengths and weaknesses. Just like going to school, the learning never ends. The journey of recovery begins in residential treatment, and will always hold a special place in the memory of the individual in recovery.