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Evidence-Based Intervention for Substance Use Disorder

Introduction to Treatment

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a significant problem, and the number of children and adolescents with SUDs is high. For instance, the prevalence of alcohol use disorder among those aged between 12 and 17 amounts to 4.6% in the US (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the many approaches to treating SUDs (Gray & Squeglia, 2018; Liddle et al. 2018).

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Individual CBT (ICBT) is based on the idea that human thinking processes and behaviors are interlinked; therefore, by affecting the former, a therapist can help to resolve behavioral problems like drug use (Winters et al., 2018). The outcome is achieved by studying individual contributors to the issue and finding personal resources that can be used to reduce said contributors (Martin, Volkmar, & Bloch, 2018), which typically consist of skills (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014a).

Evidence of Effectiveness

CBT is among the treatments that are recommended for SUDs, including SUDs in underage persons (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014b). Indeed, there is sufficient evidence to assume that CBT, especially ICBT, is effective in treating SUDs in children and adolescents (Gray & Squeglia, 2018; Martin et al., 2018; Winters et al., 2018). Most studies in the field are not recent, but there are trials which demonstrate the effectiveness of ICBT in treating SUDs.

ICBT and Child/Adolescent Population with SUDs

ICBT has been successfully used with underage persons with SUDs (Martin et al., 2018). ICBT also fits the requirements for a SUD-related treatment for the population, including the individualized and holistic approaches (Martin et al., 2018; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014a). According to Sadock, Sadock, and Ruiz (2015), ICBT should be used to maintain abstinence, which is why it is important to motivate patients who undergo ICBT.

Training for ICBT

ICBT requires highly trained professionals who can work with children and adolescents, are familiar with SUDs treatments, and are specialists in ICBT. As a result, as reported by Sadock et al. (2015), such therapists may not be available in every region, which limits access to the service. The author notes that Internet-based interventions may help to address the distance problem.

ICBT Effectiveness Evaluation

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of SUD-related ICBT, it is necessary to continually test patients for drug use (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014a). This approach helps to check if they maintain abstinence. However, it should be acknowledged that SUDs are chronic (Sadock et al., 2015). Even though ICBT is evidenced to have sustainable outcomes (Martin et al., 2018; Winters et al., 2018), prolonged treatment and relapses can be encountered.


In conclusion, it can be stated that ICBT is an appropriate solution to SUDs in children and adolescents. It has sufficient evidence to support it, and it can be evaluated for effectiveness through drug use testing. The only issue is that ICBT requires extensive training, and there is a shortage of trained professionals.

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American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders; DSM-5 (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Gray, K., & Squeglia, L. (2018). Research review: What have we learned about adolescent substance use? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59(6), 618-627. Web.

Liddle, H., Dakof, G., Rowe, C., Henderson, C., Greenbaum, P., Wang, W., & Alberga, L. (2018). Multidimensional Family Therapy as a community-based alternative to residential treatment for adolescents with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 90, 47-56. Web.

Martin, A., Volkmar, F., & Bloch, M. (Eds.) (2018). Lewis’s child and adolescent psychiatry (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014a). Principles of adolescent substance use disorder treatment: A research-based guide. Web.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014b). Treatment. Web.

Sadock, B., Sadock, V., & Ruiz, P. (2015). Kaplan & Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolter Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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Winters, K. C., Botzet, A. M., Stinchfield, R., Gonzales-Castaneda, R., Finch, A. J., Piehler, T. F.,… Hemze, A. (2018). Adolescent substance abuse treatment: a review of evidence-based research. In C. Leukefeld & T. Gullotta (Eds.), Adolescent substance abuse (pp. 141-171). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

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"Evidence-Based Intervention for Substance Use Disorder." StudyCorgi, 28 Dec. 2020,

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StudyCorgi. "Evidence-Based Intervention for Substance Use Disorder." December 28, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Evidence-Based Intervention for Substance Use Disorder." December 28, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Evidence-Based Intervention for Substance Use Disorder'. 28 December.

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