Lesson 8 Summary

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Topic Progress:

In this lesson, we examined the evidence basis for programs and practices associated with treating substance use disorders. Using the highest level of evidence we could find (systematic reviews), we found good news: many programs with which many of you are familiar have shown to be effective. Motivational enhancement therapies, cognitive-behavioural therapies, and brief interventions, along with family therapies for youth all can provide effective substance use treatments, particularly for those with mild to moderate substance use disorders. These same interventions also show good utility for people with concurrent disorders. However, our review of the literature also demonstrated that some commonly used interventions have been shown to be ineffective. This literature also raised the important point that the therapeutic relationship is of great importance regardless of the type of intervention used. The next lesson focuses on the evidence associated with prevention programs in the field of substance use.


Glasner-Edwards, S., & Rawson, R. (2010). Evidence-based practices in addiction treatment: Review and recommendations for public policy. Health Policy, 97(2–3), 93–104.

Lev-Ran S., Balchand, K., Lefebvre, L., Araki, K, LeFoll, B. (2012). Pharmacotherapy of alcohol use disorders and concurrent psychiatric disorders: A review. Canadian Journal Psychiatry, 57, 342–349.

Martin, G., & Rehm, J. (2012). The effectiveness of psychosocial modalities in the treatment of alcohol problems in adults: A review of the evidence. Canadian Journal Psychiatry, 57, 350–358.

Tanner-Smith, E. E., Wilson, S. J., Lipsey, M. W. (2013). The Comparative effectiveness of outpatient treatment for adolescent substance abuse: A meta-analysis. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 44, 145–158.