Evidence-based treatment is based on positive results. Unless it’s backed up by previous success stories, the method doesn’t qualify.

With the sharp rise in dishonest treatment centers, the need for evidence-based treatment for addiction and alcoholism has never been more necessary. News reports of centers using groundless treatment methods and committing insurance fraud run wild. It’s a true case of a select few tarnishing the cause of many. Owners of these facilities prey on those who need help in order to make a quick buck.

Thankfully, honest addiction treatment centers who use evidence-based treatment methods still exist. Though they may seem outnumbered, they continue working to provide a safe place for addicts and alcoholics to find a new chance at life.

But what is evidence-based addiction treatment? As therapy evolves to meet the needs of clients, how do you know which methods to trust? Although you should be able to feel safe trusting a treatment center, not all facilities use proven approaches.

Continue reading to learn more about the push to encourage the use of evidence-based treatment. As regulations continue to move forward, these forms of treatment will outshine their unproven counterparts.

An Overview of Evidence-Based Treatment for Addiction

Evidence-based treatment for addiction and alcoholism means exactly what it sounds like it means. They are methods and approaches to treatment backed by research and studies that support their effectiveness. In other words, research revealed that people often improved as a result of these types of treatments.

Incorporating groundless methods of addiction treatment keeps the problem going. Using treatment backed by evidence puts a stop to it.

Some treatments are most effective with specific types of addictions while others cover a more broad spectrum. The severe impact of opioid addiction in particular leads to a heavy focus on the crisis. Researchers aim to put a dent in the rising number of deaths caused by prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse breaks down evidence-based treatment into two categories: behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapies (treatment using medication). Neither method is better than the other. Instead of ranking the two, they actually work better when used together.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy refers to treatments that work to change a person’s behaviors. Therapists use different types of behavioral therapy depending on the needs of their client. Each individual has different reasons for why they arrived where they are at today. Addiction treatment is never a one-size-fits-all approach.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely-used approaches to therapy. This isn’t without reason, either. This evidence-based treatment helps millions of people every year. It seems to also work well for many who struggle with substance dependence and abuse.


CBT is based on the understanding that thoughts influence behavior. Therapists who use CBT aim to change harmful behaviors by first changing unhealthy thoughts or false beliefs. Since addicts and alcoholics display dangerous and often deadly behaviors, it is a useful form of treatment.

Addicts and alcoholics are full of unhealthy ideas and false beliefs about themselves. Many experienced traumas during their past that encourages their present actions. Therapists work with these individuals to process the things that happened and challenge their false beliefs.

After extensive work, many experience a decrease in their use or quit entirely. For those who are already sober, rates of relapse often decrease. CBT continues to prove itself as one of the most effective methods of evidence-based treatment.

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous help millions of alcoholics and addicts find and maintain sobriety. Plenty of people who qualify try it out before they are ready to get sober, though. When they relapse they tend to blame the program. But if they aren’t honestly ready to get sober, can it really be to blame?

12-step facilitation therapy is a strategic approach to encourage addicts and alcoholics to look into an Anonymous program. The spiritual aspect of the 12 steps keeps many from trying them out. This form of evidence-based treatment has been effective in guiding addicts and alcoholics to a 12-step program.


Pharmacotherapies refer to treatment that includes the use of medication. Medications help addicts and alcoholics both during the detox phase and as a long-term form of treatment. Much research surrounds the use of meds with substance dependent individuals. The generally positive responses lead to its inclusion as another form of evidence-based treatment.

The use of medication proves more beneficial when combined with some form of behavioral therapy. Without addressing the unhealthy thoughts, meds only “band-aid” the problem. However, once a person counters those thoughts in therapy, the medication helps with changing
their behaviors.

The types of medications used depend on a person’s drug of choice. Meds that prove helpful for some addictions don’t work as well for others. The two main types of substance abuse treated with medication are opioid and alcohol addictions.

Opioid Addiction

Opioids like prescription painkillers and heroin are notoriously difficult to quit using. Medication makes the detox period easier to manage and can reduce cravings during early sobriety. Methadone is one of the most commonly used prescription medications when an addict is detoxing. Due to a high risk for developing a methadone addiction, though, it is only approved for use in facilities.

Naltrexone is a newer medication used to treat opioid addiction, injected in a monthly shot. Once an addict detoxes completely, they can start taking naltrexone to reduce cravings. In addition to craving relief, naltrexone also blocks the effects of opioid drugs. This adds a reason to avoid trying to get high, because you won’t be able to.

Alcohol Addiction

Acamprostate is used during the detox period to reduce the anxiety, insomnia, and general restlessness experienced. Withdrawing from alcohol has incredible physical effects and this medication helps relieve some of them. Some doctors use it long-term to reduce the residual feelings that continue during early sobriety.

Naltrexone works for alcohol addiction in addition to opioid addiction. The use of naltrexone has been shown to reduce the craving for alcohol which leads to lower rates of relapse. Again, the lower rates of relapse are seen more often when therapists combine the use
of medication with behavioral therapy.

Finding a Facility that Uses Evidence-Based Treatment

In order to find a treatment center that uses evidence-based treatment, you need to do some research. Create a list of potential facilities and call to ask about the treatment methods they use. For example, Hawaii Island Recovery uses evidence-based treatment to help addicts and alcoholics recovery. You can call our admissions office at 877-721-3556 to learn more about the methods of treatment used at the facility.

Don’t struggle with your addiction any longer. Seek the treatment you need and the help you deserve to have a second chance at life.