What Is Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment?

Last Updated on August 14, 2021

Updated on August 24th, 2020
addiction treatment therapy

Evidence-based treatment is a term you may have come across while researching your options for addiction treatment. It’s important to understand what the term means and how it may impact your addiction treatment and experience in drug and alcohol rehab.

What Is Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment for Substance Abuse?

Although many rehab centers or addiction treatment programs emphasize the fact that they utilize evidence-based treatment methods, what does this actually mean? According to the EBP Substance Abuse, for a treatment method to be “evidence-based”, it must have published research citing it as such or be recognized by reputable organizations as evidence-based.1

Evidence-based practices or treatment methods should also have the following qualities:

  1. The method has been researched, scientifically studied, and the research has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  2. The method has provided the desired outcome(s) regarding the objectives of the addiction treatment.
  3. The method has been standardized so it can be repeated. Usually, this means instructions have been printed, detailing how the addiction treatment method should be used, with whom it should be used, the overall goals of the method, and any other materials needed to complete the method successfully.
  4. The treatment method has been studied in more than one environment and has provided consistent and effective results.
  5. A measure could be (or has already been developed) to determine how well the implementation of the treatment method is adhering to the protocol that was originally researched.

What Does it Mean for a Program to Be Evidence-Based?

If a substance abuse treatment program claims to be evidence-based, it should offer addiction treatment programming that is scientifically sound and consists of research-based practices that provide consistent preferred client outcomes and promote long-term recovery.

Although no drug rehab program can completely guarantee that all clients will remain sober after treatment, an evidence-based drug rehab program should use practices that are based on current research findings, create comprehensive and customized treatment services for each client, and use medically supported treatments and proven practices for clinical therapy.

Why Do We Use Evidence-Based Practice in Addiction Treatment?

If you’re just beginning your search for an addiction treatment provider, you may find yourself wondering, “Why is evidence-based treatment important?”

Evidence-based practice in addiction treatment ensures that clients receive the most effective care possible while improving treatment outcomes. Scientific research is an extremely reliable source for determining what works. For this reason, evidence-based addiction treatment methods are widely viewed as being very effective for helping addicted individuals overcome their drug and alcohol abuse.

Nova Recovery Center, for example, is a rehab center that offers evidence-based approaches to drug addiction treatment with a variety of research-based therapies and methods to customize each client’s recovery program. Our clients can feel confident that they are receiving high-quality addiction treatment at Nova because our methods are proven and backed by scientific evidence.

What are Examples of Evidence-Based Treatment in Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices is an organized database featuring hundreds of evidence-based treatment methods that can be used in drug and alcohol rehab, as well as in other therapeutic settings.2

Talk to a Treatment Expert - (512) 605-2955

Here is a list of evidence-based practices in substance abuse treatment:

  • Twelve-Step Facilitation Therapy: This type of therapy involves a series of individual or group sessions. The content of each session is based on the concepts of the 12-step program and helps individuals in recovery accept their disease of addiction and surrender to a willingness to engage in treatment and maintain their sobriety.3
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help clients manage trauma-related depression, anxiety, and stress. Sessions involve repetitive eye and movement exercises led by an EMDR therapist. These exercises are designed to help clients process traumatic memories and maintain a positive sense of self even when faced with the memory of a traumatic incident.4
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals address negative thoughts and behaviors and modify them. Many therapists at drug and alcohol rehab centers use it to help clients learn how to manage stressful situations, emotions, and cope with loss, grief, or other traumatic life experiences.5
  • Interactive Journaling: Interactive journaling is a form of written self-reflection that gives clients the ability to think about their substance abuse and how it relates to their current situation. Journaling is also a great tool for guiding change, modifying behaviors, and developing plans and goals for continued progress.6
  • Motivational Interviewing: This type of therapy helps clients sort through and resolve contradictory ideas about their substance abuse, behaviors, and attitudes.7

Nova Recovery Center utilizes a number of evidence-based treatment methods and specialized therapies to provide an individualized long-term rehab program that addresses the specific needs of each client. If you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment, call Nova today at (888) 343-1967 to learn more about why our rehab center may be a great fit for you.

Is AA an Evidence-Based Practice?

Yes. Although some argue that it is faith-based, 12-Step Facilitation Therapy is considered an evidence-based practice and research shows that it produces favorable outcomes on abstinence, treatment retention, and other areas of life.8 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the efficacy of 12-Step Programs for alcohol addiction has been well established and researchers have found that it may also be highly effective for treating other types of substance use disorders.9

What Are Potential Problems With Addiction Treatments That Are Not Evidence-Based?

There are many potential problems with addiction treatment facilities that claim to provide high-quality care but do not follow evidence-based treatment practices. Here are just a few.

  • There is often a lack of scientific evidence and research that validates any claims that the treatment works, which means clients are likely to waste a lot of time and money.
  • Ineffective treatment methods can be physically and/or emotionally harmful to the client.
  • Ineffective treatment could deter clients from trying other treatment methods and reduce their likelihood of achieving lasting sobriety.
  • Con artists may use manipulative language to convince clients to give them money for addiction treatment, with no return on the investment. Sometimes this is even accomplished in a way that skirts the law, leaving addicted individuals and concerned loved ones with very little legal ground to stand on.

How to Find Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Programs for Addiction

When individuals are searching for a drug rehab program for the first time, they are often told to look for evidence-based programs, but it can be difficult to determine which rehab programs are evidence-based and which ones are not.

To determine whether a drug and alcohol rehab program is reputable and provides evidence-based addiction treatment, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Do you use proven practices for therapy and medically-supported treatment methods?
  • Are your treatment practices based on treatment outcomes or current research?
  • Do you use comprehensive treatment practices that are individualized based on each client’s needs?
  • How do you measure success rates?

Asking these questions can help you determine if an addiction treatment program is reputable, trustworthy, and right for you or your loved one.

Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment at Nova Recovery Center

Nova Recovery Center utilizes several evidence-based treatment methods and specialized therapies to provide an individualized long-term rehab program that addresses the specific needs of each client. If you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment, call Nova today to learn more about why our rehab center may be a great fit for you.



  1. http://adai.uw.edu/ebp/about.htm
  2. https://nrepp.samhsa.gov/AllPrograms.aspx
  3. http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=358
  4. http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=199
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/home/ovc-20186868
  6.  http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=333
  7. http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=346
Call Now Button