When individuals seek treatment for substance use disorder, their main concern is finding a treatment that works. They may feel like this is their only shot at sobriety, and if they fail, they won’t try again. 

But, unfortunately, many people chose the wrong treatment because they didn’t have enough information. When individuals chose an evidence-based treatment option, they have proof that successful sobriety is achievable.

evidence-based treatment

A big challenge in choosing the best addiction treatment is the language used to describe the treatment. The slight distinction in the wording can make a difference in the way treatment is designed. Knowing the terms and meanings can be the difference between a successful recovery and relapse.

Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Defined

Evidence-based rehabilitation is a treatment based on proof of success. The medical journal, Nurse Researcher, helps clarify the definition of evidence-based rehabilitation. When a program is based on previous clients’ results in that program that have had successful outcomes, that defines evidence-based rehabilitation. 

For example, a group of people enters a 12-step program for substance use disorder. This group follows the program and achieves long-term sobriety from their addiction. This is evidence that 12-step programs are successful in achieving long-term sobriety. 

Evidence-based rehabilitation techniques should also have the following:

  • The technique has been researched, scientifically studied, and published in a peer-review journal. 
  • The technique has provided the desired outcomes for addiction treatment.
  • The results are consistent, no matter the environment in which treatment was delivered.
  • The technique has been given a standard to follow to achieve the same results. This includes details on how it is used, who it treats, and the goals of the method.

Research-Based Rehabilitation Defined

Research-based rehabilitation is just a bit different. The same journal explains it as a program based on research that is observed, formulated, tested, and measured the results of a particular outcome to see if it is predictable. 

For example, a study published in Addiction Research and Theory investigated individuals who entered a 12-step program. The study measured the individual’s mental health state when they began, within three months of completing the program, and twelve months after completing the 12-step program. 

The research showed that the individuals immediately following the program’s mental health state was equally split between positive and sluggish state. After three months, almost 41% were doing well, while 9% were still lagging. Twelve months after the program, a little less than 40% were still doing well, while almost 12% of individuals lagged.

The difference between the two examples is that with evidence-based rehabilitation, there are positive outcomes with little indication of why and what other factors may play a part in the outcome. Research-based rehabilitation has scientifically sound studies that prove the reason for the outcome. To obtain reliable, research-based information, there has to be solid evidence-based rehabilitation to process the study. 

The Definition of Scientifically Sound or Scientifically Based

The American Education Research Association defines scientifically sound or scientifically based research as:

  • Using rigorous, systematic, and objective methods to obtain information
  • Logic and evidence-based reasoning
  • Research designed to provide reliable results
  • Uses experimental controls to verify the results 
  • Use of appropriate data analysis methods
  • Peer reviews, results can be repeated, and the ability to build on the findings

Research-based programs that follow the correct processes are considered reliable and dependable.

Evidence-Based Therapy 

Evidence-based therapy is any therapy that is shown to be effective in peer-reviewed scientific experiments. The two primary goals behind evidence-based therapy are:

  • Increased quality of treatment
  • Increased accountability

Each individual’s addiction journey is different. From the reasoning behind the first use of a substance to the presence of co-occurring conditions, treatment should be as individualized as the addiction journey. 

Addiction professionals may use a combination of evidence-based approaches when treating substance use disorders or SUD. Evidence-based therapies that are used in evidence-based treatment centers include but are not limited to the following. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

There is a variety of reasons cognitive-behavioral therapy is the strongest evidence-based therapy program. Part of evidence-based therapy is gathering facts and evidence during treatment; this proves if therapy is working. Therapists keep logs to ensure the therapy is decreasing negative thoughts and behaviors. 

Clients will write in journals to document their progress in treatment. Journaling is essential for gathering evidence of the client’s behavior when they are not in therapy sessions. When clients are thorough when logging their behaviors, it allows the therapist to determine if cognitive-behavioral therapy is working. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is goal-oriented. At the beginning of treatment, therapists and clients work together to set goals. Goals set in cognitive-behavioral therapy are clear and objective so that they can be measured. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy is an excellent form of evidence-based therapy. According to Psychiatric Times, DBT can be useful as a stand-alone treatment or a complementary treatment when treating mental illnesses. Dialectical behavioral therapy builds on cognitive-behavioral therapy. DBT works on the acceptance aspect, which helps the change aspect of CBT. 

Dialectical behavioral therapy helps clients manage emotions, resolve conflict, and handle stress. DBT is effective in treating addiction and mental health disorders. DBT focuses on building skills in four areas:


  • Mindfulness – Being present in the moment
  • Distress Tolerance – healthy stress coping skills
  • Emotion Regulation – Learning to handle emotions in a healthy manner
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Making yourself a priority while being respectful

Individual and Group Therapy

Therapy sessions can be either in an individual setting or a group setting. In individual therapy, clients get a better understanding of the factors that led to their addiction and why it has had a negative effect on their life. Many of the evidence-based therapy options are held in a client/therapist environment. 

Group therapy helps clients learn from other individuals in the group. Group sessions allow clients to share their experiences and struggles while receiving feedback from other clients with the same struggles. Friendships and bonds are formed in group therapy, decreasing the feeling of loneliness and isolation that accompanies the addiction journey. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that addresses the emotional distress and symptoms of trauma. In twenty-four randomized controlled studies, the results show positive results in the treatment of trauma. Seven of the ten studies showed that EMDR therapy could be a more rapid form of treatment than cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy is an eight-phase treatment program that uses a combination of eye movement and other elements. EMDR focuses on the past, present, and future when healing trauma. By processing past traumas, clients can work through current issues and have a positive and productive future. 

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based therapy that addresses the hesitancy to change and helps clients stick to the treatment plan. Therapists help clients explore why they are hesitant to change and help promote changes in behavior. 

One of the most extensive analyses done on Motivation Interviewing’s overall effectiveness involved 115 studies. The analysis examined treatment length, the most effective time to administer MI therapy, the different delivery methods, ideal populations, specific issues, and use in combination with other therapies. 

The following are some of the results from the analysis.

  • MI was effective in 75% of participants and was as effective as other evidence-based therapies. 
  • MI has the best results when used before or in combination with other treatments.
  • There is no exact length of time for treatment. Results show the longer a client is in MI therapy, the better the results. 
  • MI is an ideal therapy option for all clients regardless of gender, age, or addiction severity.
  • When performed during the intake process at an evidence-based treatment center, motivational interviewing increases the time spent in treatment by 15%.

Family Therapy

Family involvement is a crucial component of evidence-based rehabilitation. Whether it is a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder, the entire family is affected. Family therapy provides education to spouses, siblings, parents, and children to help them better understand the disease. 

The effectiveness of family therapy in evidence-based rehabilitation is well documented. But it does pose some challenges when more people are involved in treatment. Data collected and the professionals’ experiences prove that evidence-based treatment centers should incorporate family therapy into treatment to increase positive outcomes.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

All addiction treatment centers focus on relapse, but evidence-based treatment centers have a specific program to support relapse prevention. Relapse prevention programs are evidence-based therapy program that is a skills-based, cognitive-behavioral approach to preventing relapse. 

Relapse prevention strategies include some of the following:

  • Developing coping skills to resist relapse triggers
  • Learning to be assertive but respectful when saying “no”
  • Planning for intense cravings and urges
  • Reinforce confidence in the ability to stay sober
  • Follow-up care plans

Medication Management

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based therapy used to treat mental health disorders and specific addictions. Addiction to alcohol and opioids requires the use of medications to detox safely and manage the addiction’s lasting symptoms. 

After a client has completed a medical detox program, they are accessed for the best evidence-based rehabilitation plan. The plan may include medications and a variety of therapies to assist the client in their recovery journey. Medications are FDA approved and are considered evidence-based therapy.

Substance use and mental health disorders do not have a cure. But, they are not a life sentence either. Treatment that includes MAT along with CBT and DBT helps clients manage adverse mental and behavioral conditions. The combination of evidence-based therapies significantly increases the client’s chance at a healthy and productive life.

Significant Benefits of Choosing an Evidence-Based Treatment Center

The most significant benefit of entering an evidence-based treatment center has proof that it can be successful. Numerous studies have shown that with hard work, evidence-based therapy is effective, and clients can quickly find relief. WIth evidence-based therapies, clients and therapists already know the risks and benefits that revolve around each program.

Clients have the added benefit of knowing their therapists are highly-trained and experienced. Therapists have the knowledge to help their clients improve their quality of life and overcome addiction and mental health disorders. Therapists in an evidence-based treatment center have particular areas of expertise. This means that an evidence-based treatment facility has specialists that are knowledgable in all different areas of addiction treatment. 

While in an evidence-based treatment center, clients can evaluate and process their past life and build a new sober life. Evidence-based rehabilitation is especially helpful for treating addiction and co-occurring mental disorders. Almost half of the individuals who enter evidence-based rehabilitation suffer co-occurring mental health disorders. 

What to Look for In an Evidence-Based Treatment Center?

Determining if the treatment center is genuinely an evidence-based treatment center takes more than just looking at their website. Some treatment centers may use the terms interchangeably because of the close meanings between evidence-based and research-based treatment. To determine if the treatment center is an evidence-based treatment center, individuals should ask lots of questions, including:

  • Are the treatments based on outcomes or current research?
  • What research sources does the treatment facility use?
  • How does the treatment center determine the success rate?
  • Are the treatment plans customized to the individual’s needs?
  • Does the treatment center use medically supported therapies?

It is vital to sobriety that an individual verifies an evidence-based treatment center’s success rate before entering a treatment program. An evidence-based treatment center will provide clients the greatest chance of sobriety with the use of therapies proven to have successful outcomes. 

LA Detox Is Waiting to Help

Are you or a loved one interested in learning more about addiction treatment options? Our staff is waiting to answer all your questions. Call us today and start your recovery journey.