What to Look for in an Evidence-Based, Scientifically Sound Drug Rehab
- What Is Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)?
- What Are Examples of EBP Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment?
- Where Can I Find Evidence-Based Rehab Programs Near Me?
- What to Look for in Scientifically Sound Rehab Programs
- What Is Research-Based Practice?
- What Does It Mean for Something to Be Scientifically Sound?
- What This Means for Drug Addiction Treatment
What Is Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)?Evidence-based practice is quite simply the decision to follow specific actions based on their previously observed effects. When a program is based on the results that previous users of that program have had successful outcomes, this is evidence-based. 1
As a relevant example, when a number of people seeking addiction treatment enter 12-Step programs and achieve long-term abstinence and recovery from their addiction, the idea that 12-Step programs are successful is based on the evidence that there are people who have succeeded in the goal of long-term recovery.
What Are Examples of EBP Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment?
Evidence based practice therapies that may be used in the treatment of substance use disorders include:
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Matrix Model
- 12 Step Facilitation
If you believe you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction and would like to know if your insurance may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated programs, call us today at or use our insurance verification form below.
Where Can I Find Evidence-Based Rehab Programs Near Me?
American Addiction Centers offer various treatment modalities to help people break their cycle of addiction. Explore our rehab locations across the United States below.
- All Treatment Centers: See All Rehabs
- California: Laguna Treatment Hospital
- Florida: Recovery First Treatment Center
- Florida: River Oaks Treatment Center
- Las Vegas: Desert Hope Treatment Center
- Locations Nationwide: Resolutions Recovery Residences
- Massachusetts: Adcare Treatment Hospital
- Mississippi: Oxford Treatment Center
- New Jersey: Sunrise House Treatment Center
- Rhode Island: Adcare – Outpatient
- Rhode Island: Adcare – Inpatient
- Texas: Greenhouse Treatment Center
What to Look for in Scientifically Sound Rehab Programs
These elements are all important when looking for a scientifically sound rehab program. Research-based practices that result in predictable outcomes and long-term recovery are the types of programs to seek out. Because of the slight difference in the definitions of evidence-based and research-based practices, some treatment centers may use these terms interchangeably. In order to determine whether a rehab center that claims to be evidence-based is actually using research-based strategies, some questions to ask might be:
- Are your practices based on outcomes or on current research?
- What are your research sources?
- Are you aware of the most current studies on drug addiction treatment?
- How do you measure your success rates?
- Do you follow a comprehensive series of treatment practices customized to your clients?
- Do you use medically supported treatments and proven practices for therapy?
By carefully investigating the facility’s methods and basis for treatment before committing to a program, a person struggling with addiction can find the program that has the most research and evidence behind it.
What Is Research-Based Practice?
Research-based practice, on the other hand, is a bit different. According to the same Nurse Researcher article, a program based on research means that someone has observed a particular outcome, and has then formulated, tested, and measured the results of a study to test whether that outcome is predictable.
To go back to our example, a research-based program would take into account the fact that there were positive outcomes from the 12-Step program but would not leave it there.
A good example of this is a study that was recently shared in Addiction Research and Theory investigating individuals who entered a 12-Step program. The study was designed to measure their state of mental health immediately after the program, within three months of finishing, and within 12 months of finishing. This research demonstrated that while the mental health of the individuals immediately after the program was split pretty equally between a positive, flourishing state and a negative, languishing state, after three months nearly 41 percent were flourishing while just more than 9 percent were languishing. At 12 months, slightly less than 40 percent were still flourishing, while the number languishing had gone up only slightly to about 12 percent.
The difference between these two examples is that while the evidence based practice can make it seem that a treatment is successful for some, there’s little indication as to why, and whether there may be other factors contributing to the outcome. With a research-based practice, scientifically sound studies can help quantify the reasons for outcomes, making outcomes more predictable and therefore showing the practice more certain to have that outcome. Interestingly, to obtain reliable research-based results, solid evidence-based reasoning is required in the process of developing the study.
What Does It Mean for Something to Be Scientifically Sound?
The American Educational Research Association presents a definition of scientifically based, or scientifically sound, research; this includes research with the following attributes, among others:2
- Rigorous, systematic, and objective methods to obtain knowledge
- Logic and evidence-based reasoning
- Research design that provides reliable results
- Use of experimental controls to verify that results are not due to some other factor
- Appropriate data analysis methods
- Peer review, repeatability of results, and ability to build on findings
When a research-based program follows these processes, the results are considered to be reliable enough to depend on.
What This Means for Drug Addiction TreatmentExperts in addiction treatment look for research-based modalities that result from scientifically sound processes.
While this is a very large field with a number of implications, research has basically determined that addiction is chronic in nature and a disorder of the brain – much like diabetes is a disorder of the body. What follows from this, and what further research has shown, is that while addiction can be treated, it is a continuing condition that must be managed.
Research-based finding means that addiction treatment is most likely to result in long-term recovery when treatment helps a person learn to manage the addiction, starting with medically assisted detox and continuing through behavioral therapies, and post-treatment tools and strategies that support the individual in continuing addiction management techniques.3
These processes are most thorough and robust in residential treatment programs where the person can fully detox from the addictive substance with medical support, spend time in therapy that teaches what addiction management looks like, and prepares the person by supplying tools and support structure that can be accessed after treatment is completed in order to sustain abstinence and maintain long-term recovery.
- Carnwell, Ross. “Essential Differences between Research and Evidence-Based Practice.” Nurse Researcher, 2001, https://journals.rcni.com/nurse-researcher/essential-differences-between-research-and-evidencebased-practice-nr2001.01.8.2.55.c6150.
- “AERA Offers Definition of Scientifically Based Research.” American Educational Research Associate, https://www.aera.net/About-AERA/Key-Programs/Education-Research-Research-Policy/AERA-Offers-Definition-of-Scientifically-Based-Res.
- “Treatment and Recovery.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery.