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The Matrix Model

Table of Contents

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About the Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is a style of treatment designed to aid in recovery from stimulant substances like methamphetamine and cocaine. The method was created in the 1980s and has seen widespread success. The Matrix Model is:

  • An integrative treatment. It includes aspects of many different therapeutic styles and psychological orientations.
  • An intensive outpatient program (IOP). It entails several hours of treatment each day, several days per week while allowing the client to still live at home.
  • A highly-structured program. The entire model is thoroughly designed and engineered with planned topics and sequencing for each session and phase of treatment.
  • A time-limited treatment. The model is intended to last for 16 weeks, but it can be extended for a year depending on the needs of the client.
  • A proven treatment. Multiple studies have shown benefit of the treatment based on extending recovery and client consistency. Beyond stimulants, the model is helpful for a range of substance use issues. The efficacy has been so clear that many organizations support the treatment protocol, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Theory and Foundations

Some treatment plans will find their basis in one psychological orientation. For example, contingency management (CM) gathers its views from behaviorism and bases all of its methods from this position. Though this can be valuable, it can be limiting as gaps in the treatment may appear. Since the treatment approach of the Matrix Model is integrative, it utilizes specific aspects of several beneficial treatment styles including:

The ability to bring together the most effective facets from the most effective styles makes it a successful treatment type for people new to recovery as well as those who have not found success previously. All of the methods are tested for their effectiveness and appropriateness for the population being treated.

The Duty of the Therapist

The integrated approach of the Matrix Model requires a therapist that is highly skilled and adaptable to a variety of situations and styles. The most appropriate therapist will be one that is experienced in CBT, motivational interviewing, and the physiology behind addiction.

In the Matrix Model, the therapist will:

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  • Facilitate group, individual, and family sessions.
  • Coordinate with other therapists and social services to benefit the client.
  • Encourage attendance and participation in 12-step meetings.
  • Engage the client in notions of cognitive-behavioral therapy to understand connections of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Praise and reward desired behaviors.
  • Provide consistency and structure to teach the expectations in place for the client.

Since the Matrix Model is not based in confrontation, the therapist will develop a position as a teacher and a coach. It will be the duty of the therapist to create a safe, nonjudgmental environment based on positivity and openness. The therapist will build an empathic understanding with the client and promote their needs.

The Matrix Model Structure

The intensive outpatient program structure of the Matrix Model means that the client will be involved in treatment each day of the week.

Generally, the client will attend formal treatment 3 days per week, addressing a number of topics. Typically, this treatment will include multiple types of individual and group therapy for several hours. The other days of the week, the client is prompted to attend informal treatment like 12-step meetings.

In addition to the structure outlined above, the Matrix Model uses weekly urine testing and breath tests to monitor all substance use. The testing will be done randomly, but since the program is not confrontation or punitive, positive testing results will not result in dismissal from the program. Rather, it will be a point of discussion within treatment.

Program Principles

The Matrix Model has 8 principles that guide treatment and boost efficacy. All of these being completed will lead to better results for the client. They include the importance of:

8 Guiding Treatment Principles

  1. Respect
  2. Follow-through on structure and expectations
  3. Quality educational content
  4. Varied treatment approaches
  5. Reward and encouragement
  6. Engagement and Education
  7. Participation in self-help and community-based programs
  8. Periodic drug testing

  1. Building a strong, respectful relationship between therapist and client.
  2. Following through on the structure of the program and the expectations of the client.
  3. Providing quality educational content to the client that explains the nature of substance use.
  4. Using varied treatment approaches like CBT and motivational interviewing to meet the client’s needs.
  5. Rewarding and encouraging the desired behaviors while extinguishing the negative behaviors.
  6. Engaging and educating the family about addiction and recovery.
  7. Motivating members to participate in self-help and community-based programs in addition to the Matrix Model.
  8. Checking for substance use with urine testing.

Accessing Matrix Model Treatment

There are only a few treatment centers that are listed as Certified Sites in a few states. There is some expanded coverage outside of the US. The complete list can be found here.

Fortunately, due to its reputation for success and the backing from government agencies, it is likely that a treatment center near you will incorporate the principles of the Matrix Model into the program. To find a treatment program that incorporates the Matrix Model or other therapy types, call .

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

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