Evidence based treatments

Over the last several decades, primarily because of high levels of funding by the US government, a substantial scientific literature about addiction treatment has developed. This literature is constantly changing as new research is published. It is one of the ongoing tasks of Practical Recovery staff to monitor this literature and continually revise our treatment services.


Our reading of this literature suggests several enduring principles of addiction treatment. For a comprehensive overview of addiction and its treatment, we recommend Rethinking Substance Abuse: What the Science Shows, and What We Should Do About It, edited by William R. Miller and Kathleen Carroll.


In addition to the motivational enhancement, cognitive behavioral, contingency management and family and social network treatments we typically employ (both for addiction and for other psychological problems), we keep in mind the following principles, as being particularly relevant to the clients we serve:


There are as many paths to recovery as there are individuals

Treatment can be a useful adjunct to the natural process of recovery

No treatment works for everyone

Some treatments (e.g., confrontation) are harmful

Medications for addiction can be helpful

Family involvement in treatment is in most cases ideal

Allowing the client choices promotes commitment to recovery

Psychotherapist capacity for empathy is a determining aspect of treatment

Most individuals with serious addiction have other significant problems

Treatment needs to consider the whole person

As with all change, positively reinforcing small steps is valuable

Keeping the big picture in mind (purpose, values) is essential

Slips and relapses often occur, and are part of the change process


It is difficult for someone without psychological training to evaluate the scientific literature on addiction treatment. However, we provide below several links for the courageous!


–Click on “substance abuse treatment” for a listing of over 50 evidence-based addiction treatments:




–See especially pages 2-5 for a listing of 13 Principles of Drug Addition Treatment. Practical Recovery and Reunion San Diego offer treatment entirely consistent with this list of 13 Principles:




–See the 18 types of evidence-based treatments that emerged from a review of every randomized clinical trial for alcohol problems published in the scientific literature through 2000.  Although there are continuing changes in the alcohol treatment field, there have been no dramatic changes since that time. Practical Recovery and Reunion San Diego incorporate elements of each of these treatments into its services: