Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Estil Wallace

Recovery Advocate
& Cornerstone Founder

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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When considering your options for treatment plans, you may be amazed at how many different approaches there are to recovery. Some lean more to the holistic side, some give medication a more prominent role, and some emphasize the importance of a healthy social support system. There’s no one right approach for any one person; ultimately, the choice is yours, based on your knowledge of what works for you, along with the input of family, close friends, a recovery professional, or someone else you trust to have your best interests at heart. To make this important decision, it’s critical that you educate and inform yourself of the options available. One way to distinguish between approaches to recovery is to learn whether it is evidence-based or not.
Searching for help with drug and/or alcohol addiction? Call us now at (800) 643-2108.

Why Is Evidence-Based Treatment Important?

For a treatment to be evidence-based, it must be backed by impartial scientific testing. Not all treatments work equally well, and not all treatments have been proven to work as consistently as others. Even if you’ve personally seen improvement using healing crystals or reiki, it’s important to understand that these practices have not been proven by scientific research. This may not change your decision to use these techniques, but a lack of evidence-based treatment methods should be considered a major red flag when looking at different centers for your recovery. It’s one thing if you accept these unproven practices, but you want your healing process to be managed by a team that works based on hard fact and scientifically-proven methods

It may seem obvious that evidence-based practices are more trustworthy than those whose claims of efficacy haven’t been verified. A 1998 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a practice called therapeutic touch had been taught at more than 100 colleges and universities in 75 countries before it was debunked as entirely ineffective by a nine-year-old for a school science project.

Just because a practice isn’t evidence-based doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been proven to be ineffective; it means it hasn’t been proven to work as claimed. With the investment of time, energy, resources, and mental dedication you’re making to your recovery, it’s not worth gambling with unproven treatment options when there are such a diverse array of trustworthy, reputable approaches available to you.

Evidence-Based Means It’s Proven to Work

Your recovery is one of the most important things you’ve ever done. If you’re going to leave it in the hands of an untested practice, at least make sure you’re aware of the pros and cons. It’s simple: if a practice is backed up by human trust or reasoning, it’s fallible and can’t be considered evidence-based. Centers that offer evidence-based treatment have done the research or are following the guidance of those who have. 

No matter how strong the conviction of a single practitioner or a group, it can’t stand in for clinical trials, repeated medical testing, and long-term research. If a practice has been developed according to the scientific method, chances are it’s legitimate as an evidence-based approach. These are the tools that will allow you to make an informed decision about how to treat you best.

Evidence-Based Doesn’t Mean Cold or Impersonal

Of course, using evidence-based approaches doesn’t make picking a treatment plan inflexible. The staff at a quality treatment center will also take into consideration your personal preferences, past experiences, and unique life situation when developing a treatment plan for you. They’ll also be sure to consult with anyone who’s there with you, whether it’s trusted friends or family.

Following evidence and research doesn’t automatically make you an anonymous case to be handled like the rest of them; it just ensures that whomever you entrust with your recovery is approaching it with full knowledge of all the tools at their disposal and, most importantly, with knowledge of what will and won’t work.

What Should I Look Out For?

With many practices and centers offering claims of evidence-based treatment, how can you know which have been most proven to succeed? If a center offers treatments whose legitimacy is sourced to the center itself, its practitioners, or the approval of a specific medical guru alone, chances are it’s using the term ‘evidence-based’ incorrectly. Centuries of medical science have proven that informal experience (“this tends to work with most of my patients”), emotional reasoning (“this approach just feels like it’s going to work”), or tradition (“we’ve just always done things this way”) in no way constitute conclusive support that a practice is effective.

When you’re weighing your options for treatment, factors such as cost, convenience, and comfort may be high on your list of considerations, but remember: none of them are more important than the basic question of whether the treatment will work to get you sober and keep you sober. That’s your goal, first and foremost.

When choosing your path to recovery, information is the most important tool you have. Cornerstone Healing Center in Scottsdale, Arizona uses scientifically sound, evidence-based approaches to treatment and the consistency of our results speak for themselves. Five times as many people finish treatment at Cornerstone, compared to the national average. At Cornerstone, we’ve seen that 66% of people who make it through their first year achieve long-term sobriety. We understand that the first year is what can make or break a recovery plan. That’s why our staff work with you not just to lift you out of the cycle of addiction, but to help you navigate through the steps of what comes next for you: building the life you’re meant to live. Many approaches can get you sober, but we help you stay sober. Find out why our alumni and their families choose our verified methods by giving us a call at (800) 643-2108


[1] How Meditation Helps

[2] A close look at therapeutic touch

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Author & Reviewers

Estil has 12 years of experience in recovery, and serves as Executive Director, Board Member and President for He has also worked directly with alcoholics and drug addicts in Maricopa County jails. He has over 14 years of sales, management, networking and digital marketing experience. Estil believes anyone willing to change can heal.
lionel estrada lisac clinical director
Lionel, a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) with over 4 years at Cornerstone. Passionate about helping those with addiction, he has trained as an EMDR therapist  adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of addiction, providing an empathetic approach to addiction.

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