The fact that there are now so many approaches to addiction recovery can be a good thing because it means there is more likely to be something that will work for you. No one treatment works for everyone, so the availability of choice is a good thing. The problem with so many options though is that it is easy to become overwhelmed by options. Some approaches may be just a waste of your time though, so you could be better off ignoring these completely. By sticking to evidence based addiction treatment, you have a better chance of finding something that works for you.
To say that a treatment is evidence based means that there is some type of quality research to back its effectiveness. Without such evidence, all you really have to go by is other people’s biased opinions and claims. Many scam artists try to make money from other people’s misery, and they will say almost anything to get these individuals to hand over some money. It is very easy for anyone to claim to have a ‘miracle cure’ for addiction, but these words are useless without evidence to back them up.
Not all evidence should be treated equally, which is why professionals use a scale from 1 to 5 (level 1 is considered the most reliable) when evaluating the merit of any evidence:
- the least reliable evidence is personal antidotes as these will be more likely to contain bias and misunderstandings (evidence level 5)
- evidence from reputable publications and literature reviews (evidence level 4)
- the consensus opinion within a profession (evidence level 3)
- evidence from a reputable experiment that didn’t include some type of randomisation (evidence level 2)
- evidence from a fully randomised trial/experiment (evidence level 1).
Even if a treatment does not have a lot of scientific evidence to support it, this does not necessarily mean it will not work in your case. The problem is that it is far less likely to work than treatments that are supported by evidence. You are only going to have a limited amount of time in rehab, so it makes sense that you would want to choose the treatments that have the best likelihood of working. The way to find such treatments is to choose the ones that are evidence based.
One of the other dangers with choosing non-evidence based approaches it that these may actually involve dangers. The fact that these treatments have not been properly tested means they could produce unexpected negative side effects. As a rule of thumb, the less quality evidence there is to support an approach, the more likely it is to be a scam.
By choosing evidence-based treatments, it empowers you to make choices that will be much better for you. It means that you are not so reliant on trusting others and you are less at risk of being fooled by some type of marketing ploy. The fact that these treatments are evidence based means you can do your research (i.e. assess the evidence) and decide if the option is the best one for you.
Just because a treatment is evidence based, does not necessarily mean it is the right option for you. There may also be other treatments that have not yet been adequately tested but that could be effective in your case. Still, you are less likely to go wrong if you stick to the evidence based options.
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy
- mindfulness therapy
- 12-step work/ Minnesota model
- matrix model
- group therapy.