The Matrix Model of Addiction Treatment: A Guide
The Matrix Model of addiction treatment is an integrated form of substance abuse treatment that combines different evidence-based therapeutic interventions to treat people who struggle with stimulant use disorder.1
The Matrix Institute in Los Angeles, California developed this therapeutic model in the 1980s as a new way of helping the growing numbers of people struggling with stimulant addiction during the height of the cocaine epidemic. The available addiction treatment models at that time did not address the unique needs and concerns of people who were using stimulants, such as crack/cocaine and methamphetamine.1
Before the Matrix model, a structured outpatient approach to treating stimulant addiction didn’t exist. This gap prompted the Matrix model creators to formulate a different approach to stimulant addiction that directly addressed the needs of people recovering from stimulant abuse and addiction.1,2
If you or someone you care about want to stop stimulant abuse, you may be interested in learning more about Matrix model of addiction treatment and how it can help you on the path to recovery. Learn more about the Matrix model of substance abuse treatment below, or to learn more about American Addiction Centers’ use of the Matrix model in our addiction treatment centers, call .
What is the Matrix Model of Addiction Treatment?
The Matrix Model is an integrative treatment model meant to directly address the needs of people who suffer from stimulant addiction through the strategic combination of evidence-based therapies.1 People who participate in Matrix therapy participate in an intensive outpatient treatment program for 16 weeks, where they are provided different evidence-based therapies in a highly structured environment.1 While the creators of the Matrix Model originally intended that this model addressed people with stimulant addictions, some researchers examine the Matrix model for its potential benefits for treating addiction to other substances, including opioids.3
The founders of the Matrix Model developed their approach primarily as a way of treating addiction to cocaine/crack and methamphetamine.1,4 During treatment, people are guided through a variety of methods to help them recover from addiction, such as addiction education, information on recovery and relapse, and familiarization with self-help programs.4
They are supported throughout the program by a qualified and trained therapist, who acts as a coach and functions as both the group and individual counselor for participants.1
The Matrix Model of treatment is an evidence-based method for helping people recover from stimulant abuse.2 It has been studied for more than 20 years and has been evolving and changing based on data from thousands of people addicted to stimulants.1,2 Studies have shown different efficacy rates for the Matrix model.1 As previously mentioned, the Matrix Model has undergone limited research for other substances but it has been shown, so far, to be most useful for methamphetamine and cocaine/crack addiction.4
The ultimate goal of Matrix rehabilitation is to help people stay in treatment and abstain from substance use.5 It is also designed to help improve a person’s self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth.4
Goals & Benefits of the Matrix Model
The Matrix Model is designed to help people achieve abstinence from drugs and alcohol.2 Other specific goals for people participating in the Matrix Model of addiction treatment include:1,6
- Understanding addiction and relapse.
- Developing relapse prevention skills.
- Developing healthier social behaviors.
- Reinforcing healthier coping skills.
- Becoming involved with 12-step and other types of support groups.
- Individualized goals determined between the patient and their treatment team.
History, Statistics & Effectiveness of the Matrix Model
During the 1980s, an increasing number of people began abusing methamphetamine, crack/cocaine, and other stimulants. At the time, available treatment models mainly focused on alcohol addiction and heroin abuse (which were mostly treated with methadone), and these treatment methods were found to be inadequate in treating stimulant addiction.1,2
In response to this influx (and the lack of effective stimulant-specific addiction treatment models available during that time), the Matrix Institute in Los Angeles, California developed the Matrix Model of addiction treatment.1,2
The pilot study for the Matrix Model was conducted on people struggling with cocaine addiction in 1985.1 It evaluated the Matrix Model’s efficacy against the efficacy of 28-day inpatient treatment verses participation in self-help groups with no formal addiction treatment.1
Results demonstrated that participants displayed “significantly less cocaine use” after eight months of entering treatment with the Matrix Model.1
After the pilot, different studies over the past decades have examined and demonstrated the efficacy of the Matrix Model, albeit with varying, yet mainly positive outcomes.1,5 While studies have continued to present day, a significant amount were conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s.2,6
One of these studies was the Methamphetamine Treatment Project (MTP), which is the largest randomized clinical trial to examine different treatments for methamphetamine dependence, according to SAMHSA.2 This project took place between 1999 and 2001 and was designed to examine the differences between the Matrix Model and treatment as usual (TAU).2 Researchers found that participants in the Matrix Model were more likely to remain in treatment, were 27% more likely to complete treatment, and were 31% more likely to have meth-free urine screens than people who received TAU.2 Some later studies have confirmed the model’s uses as well, but many have not provided definitive efficacy rates.1,6
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- Rawson, R. & McCann, M. (n.d.). The Matrix Model of intensive outpatient treatment.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Counselor’s treatment manual: Matrix intensive outpatient treatment for people with stimulant use disorders. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4152. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Eghbali, H., Zare, M., Bakhtiari, A., Monirpoor, N., & Ganjali, A. (2013). The effectiveness of matrix interventions in improving methadone treatment. International journal of high risk behaviors & addiction, 1(4), 159–165.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition): The Matrix Model (stimulants).
- Weiner, A. (2016). The Matrix Model® in the new healthcare world: Implementing EBPs.
- California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. (2018, February). Matrix Model intensive outpatient program.
- Smith, R. (2015). Treatment Strategies for Substance Abuse and Process Addictions. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.