Matrix Model

Matrix Model of Treatment: Proven Methods

What is the Matrix Model of Substance Abuse Treatment?

Having primarily been developed in response to the American cocaine epidemic that took place from the 1980s to the late 1990s, the Matrix Model is an approach to addiction treatment that was designed to target stimulant use disorders.

As a highly structured drug addiction treatment program, the matrix model combines several methods of approaching substance abuse, and is typically carried out over a 16-week period. Furthermore, while originally intended to treat addictions to stimulant substances, the Matrix Model can be beneficial in treating individuals struggling with any form of substance addiction.

The Matrix Model Process

The Matrix Model Process

The Matrix Model structure reflects that of an intensive outpatient program, involving several hours of treatment each day, for several days a week. Whether receiving treatment for a stimulant addiction or otherwise, clients continue to live at home rather than at a rehab center.

Of course, this can make it difficult to accurately gauge a client’s recovery progress. Thus, in order to ensure clients are continuously combating their drug addiction and practicing abstinence, they will typically be periodically administered urine tests throughout the course of treatment.

If an individual slips back into old habits, this may require greater participation in relapse prevention groups. Furthermore, while this process typically follows a 16-week time-table, this can be extended to up to a year for individuals who require more extensive treatment and observation.

In these cases, individuals may also benefit from partaking in residential drug addiction treatment, where they can receive constant supervision and care while living at a rehab center. Furthermore, the Matrix Model incorporates several other treatment methods in addition to its intensive outpatient approach, including:


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The Importance of Therapy in Addiction Treatment

When using the Matrix Model approach to addiction treatment, rehab programs will typically incorporate multiple therapeutic services as a means of discovering the root cause of an individual’s substance use. These may include:

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), these therapeutic services are a key factor in treating a substance abuse issue, as mental illness and addiction often go hand-in-hand.

In fact, many treatment centers will offer recovery options specifically designed to treat dual diagnosis clients who are struggling with a simultaneous mental health and substance use disorder.

Family Education Groups

When it comes to addiction, this condition often has adverse consequences not just for the addicted individual, but for the people around them as well. Thus, including the family members and friends of these individuals in their recovery process can be extremely beneficial for both parties.

Not only does this help build an encouraging relationship between a recovering person and their loved ones, but it can further ensure these individuals do not feel alone in their recovery process. Of course, this typically requires a level of understanding of how addiction affects an individual, and just how hard overcoming substance abuse problems can be.

Thus, the Matrix Model heavily prioritizes incorporating family education group services, as well as addiction education resources into its recovery approach. After all, teaching family members about the factors that go into developing and overcoming drug abuse habits can be extremely beneficial, not just for these individuals, but for their addicted loved one(s) as well.

Motivational Interviewing

Matrix Model

Motivational interviewing is a psychotherapeutic method of helping individuals move away from states of indecision and uncertainty. Once this has been achieved, they are then taught how to make positive and confident decisions, as well as establish and actively pursue certain goals.

This is a particularly effective method of targeting habits of problematic alcohol and drug use. However, it can also be applied to numerous other situations, including:

  • Mental Health Issues
  • Gambling Problems
  • Risky Sexual Behaviors

Contingency Management

One of the less commonly used forms of addiction treatment, contingency management is an incentive-based approach that rewards individuals for practicing drug-free behaviors. This may include regularly attending treatment sessions or consistently passing urine tests.

Rewards may include cash prizes or vouchers that can be redeemed for activities, such as a trip to the movies or a local restaurant. Furthermore, rewards may be withheld should an individual fall back into drug-using behaviors. Despite its ability to effectively aid in addiction recovery, concerns over the ethicality of this approach has kept its utilization relatively minimized.

Early Recovery

Generally completed within the first month of the Matrix Model treatment process, early recovery serves as an integral part of the intensive outpatient approach. Consisting of eight group sessions (referred to as early recovery skills groups (ERS)) held within this period, it prioritizes a community-based method of addiction recovery.

While these early recovery skills groups are usually co-created between clients and a therapist, they are more focused on providing drug education resources for recovering individuals, rather than therapeutic care. This early recovery step emphasizes two concepts, which state that:

  • The client holds the power in their ability to achieve abstinence; their ERS group simply serves as support during this process.
  • Long-term sobriety is more attainable when one has access to community support, rather than going through the recovery process on their own.

Continuous Sobriety and Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention groups serve as a means of allowing individuals to recognize early signs of relapse, and use this knowledge to prevent falling back into unhealthy habits. On average, these relapse prevention group sessions are 90 minutes long.

During these sessions, individuals will focus on the idea that relapse is not a random occurrence, but rather one that is predictable and avoidable. The goal of these groups, like ERS, is to educate the client through providing them with relapse identification and prevention skills. This may be achieved through:

  • Teaching individuals how to recognize and manage negative feelings, such as shame, guilt, and anger (either towards oneself or someone else).
  • Providing individuals with the tools they need to find appropriate ways of managing and using their time.
  • Helping these individuals to build self-motivating and goal-setting skills.
  • Assisting clients in identifying their personal triggers, and finding ways to avoid or cope with them.
  • Helping these individuals to build self-monitoring skills, and understanding the importance of both personal will-power and knowing when to ask for help.

Social Support

While The Matrix Model does offer individual care services, this treatment program heavily prioritizes the importance of social support groups in the recovery process. After all, one of the most difficult side effects of habitual drug use is the loss of the ability to properly interact with others.

Through the use of social support groups, a person in recovery will be assisted in gradually learning to let go of their substances and begin moving towards an abstinent lifestyle. Clients will begin their social support group sessions during their third month of treatment.

These support groups will continue to meet for a 36-week period (a process referred to as continuous care), even after their initial drug addiction treatment has concluded. In many cases, individuals who have more experience at this level will be encouraged to assist newer clients as they adjust to this support setting.

The Role of the Therapist in Addiction Treatment

When it comes to the role of the therapist in the addiction treatment process, these individuals often fill the role of both the client’s teacher and coach. By creating a supportive and trusting relationship with their client, therapists can be critical in providing recovering individuals with positive reinforcement.

Furthermore, for many individuals undergoing addiction treatment, it is not uncommon for them to struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth. In these cases, having a strong connection with their therapist can help them build more confidence in these areas; a step that is vital to a successful recovery process.

The 8 Guiding Treatment Principles of the Matrix Model

Treatment Principles of the Matrix Model

In ensuring positive treatment outcomes, the Matrix Model features eight guiding principles to recovery that both the client and their treatment provider(s) are strongly encouraged to follow. These not only serve to increase the individual’s chances of a successful recovery but help promote a supportive and safe environment for all those involved in this process.

These eight guiding principles that define the Matrix model are as follows:

  • Establishing a level of mutual respect between the client, their treatment providers, and other recovering individuals.
  • Following through on the structure of the Matrix Model, as well as its recovery expectations.
  • Providing quality educational resources on drug addiction.
  • Offering a variety of treatment approaches.
  • Rewarding and encouraging clients as they progress in their recovery process.
  • Engaging with and continuously educating clients, as well as their loved ones, about drug abuse and addiction treatment.
  • Participating in self-help programs and community support treatment sessions.
  • Submitting to periodic drug testing (i.e., urine testing).


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The Research Behind the Matrix Model

The Matrix Model was developed using research findings on the best methods of substance abuse treatment, and combining these to create a comprehensive approach to treating stimulant addiction.

As discussed, these include intensive outpatient services, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, combined individual and group therapy sessions, and the incorporation of family education services in order to provide a more well-rounded recovery process.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, several studies have found that participants treated using the Matrix Model show significant decreases in substance use, improvements in their mental health, and considerable decreases in risky behaviors. Furthermore, these studies’ relapse analysis findings show that these individuals are also more likely to maintain long-term sobriety and abstinence.

Other Substance Abuse Treatment Methods

There is a wide variety of addiction treatment options and methods available to individuals today. While the Matrix Model approach has been found to be incredibly effective, as previously stated, it was developed with the goal of treating stimulant addiction.

Thus, individuals struggling with other forms of substance abuse may benefit from seeking out alternative forms of alcohol or drug addiction treatment. Most treatment centers generally adhere to an accepted set of 7 levels of Care in Addiction Treatment, known as the Continuum of Care (COC).

These levels of care typically follow a successive pattern, with clients progressing from one level to the next as they go through the recovery process, and are as follows:

Because certain forms of substance abuse can have particularly intense withdrawal periods (i.e. addictions to alcohol, opioids, and benzos), individuals who struggle with these types of addiction may require more intensive care, which can minimize their chances of experiencing a medical emergency.

When determining which addiction treatment options may be best, individuals are strongly encouraged to consult with their medical provider or an addiction treatment professional.

Finding the Right Treatment Options for You

Whether struggling with a stimulant addiction or another form of substance abuse, finding alcohol and drug addiction treatment options can be a difficult and confusing process.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance dependency and are ready to start seeking treatment, know that you are not alone, and help IS available. Here at Find Addiction Rehabs, we understand how overwhelming and painful addiction can be for both the addicted individual and the people around them; but that’s why we are here.

Our hotline is available 24/7 to connect you with one of our representatives, who are dedicated to finding the best treatment centers and recovery options for your care needs. Whether finding a treatment center that incorporates a Matrix Model approach, or helping you choose other addiction treatment options, we are here for you.

The process of recovering from addiction can be hard; but continuing to abuse substances is even harder, both for you and your loved ones. So make the right choice and call today, so that we help you get started on a path to achieving the long-term sobriety and sustained happiness you deserve.

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