A consumer’s guide to research on substance use disorders (part 2)

Yesterday, I explained the challenges of making sense of research and introduced 8 questions that will help readers evaluate evidence and relevance to their work, goals, and lives.

1) What is the treatment or intervention being studied?

It’s important to pay close attention to the intervention being studied. It is common for news reports about the study to describe it poorly. Further it’s common for the study itself to obscure the details of the intervention.

Interventions might include:

  • Medication with, or without, counseling
    • Opioid agonist medication
    • Opioid antagonist medication
    • Other medications
  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Harm reduction
  • Case management
  • Mutual aid groups such as 12 step meetings, faith based meetings  (Without professional treatment)
  • Specific types of counseling or combinations of them, such as:
    • Motivational Interviewing
    • Twelve step facilitation (Professionally directed treatment focused on linking and encouraging active participation in 12-step organizations.)
    • Relapse Prevention Therapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It’s also important to know more about how the treatment was delivered:

  • Residential treatment
    • Long term
    • Short term
  • Outpatient
    • How often? Once a week, or multiple times per week?
    • Over what period of time?
  • Was it linked to additional services intended to support problem resolution over months and years, rather than days and weeks?
  • Does the treatment in the study resemble how treatment is provided in the real world?

Posts in this series: