addiction treatment

Matrix Model

Jump to a section

The Matrix Model of treatment is an intense, structured, 16-week program to help people struggling with addiction to stimulant drugs. The Matrix program was designed to be outpatient and provide people dealing with addiction with the education, tools, and strategies for understanding and overcoming their addiction. 

The Background and Effectiveness of Matrix Model Addiction Treatment

The Matrix Institute of Los Angeles, California, originally created this program in the 1980s in response to the wave of cocaine usage called ‘The Cocaine Epidemic’ that wreaked havoc on the lives of millions in the US. Before the Matrix Model was developed, there was no formal, structured method of dealing with stimulant addiction. The rehab facilities focused on helping people addicted to alcohol and heroin, and the only option for stimulant drug rehabilitation was the 12-step program [1].

Although this method deals with stimulant addiction- particularly cocaine and methamphetamine- it has also been adapted by some outpatient drug treatment centers to assist in the recovery of other drug addictions. The Matrix Model has been in existence for over 20 years, with new studies and therapy modalities added over time to make it more effective.

Several studies have been done over the years to test the efficacy of the Matrix Model in comparison to usual methods of treatments, and they have consistently proven that  the Matrix Model works better. One famous study was the Methamphetamine Treatment Project, which took place between 1999 and 2001. The results for the Matrix Model were very positive. 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 treatment as usual.

Back to top

Core Principles of the Matrix Program

Several core principles are the foundation for the Matrix approach. They are the concepts that guide the structure of the model and how it is carried out.

  1. Cultivating a positive, collaborative relationship with every client- The therapist should create a positive atmosphere where they work with the client to set goals, understand their difficulties, provide empathy and support, and remove all judgment and criticism.
  2. Following a specific, structured model and setting expectations- Some expectations include attendance of the full program, participation in other self-help groups, and limiting contact with drugs. The structure and expectations create a roadmap for recovery and ensure that there is predictability and dependency in the chaotic life of the addict.
  3. Educating the clients on psychoeducation of drug abuse-  This gives the person dealing with addiction an understanding of their physical, emotional, and psychological changes since they started misusing drugs and allows them to understand what to expect in the future with their recovery.
  4. Practicing cognitive behavioral concepts- The CBT approach teaches people struggling with addiction how to identify triggers, implement coping strategies, and handle difficult situations. They become very self-aware and share everything they learn about themselves with the group.
  5. Positively encouraging and reinforcing behavioral change- These include monetary rewards, treats, vouchers, and certificates that are awarded for attendance, abstinence from drug use, and positive behavior during group sessions.
  6. Including the family members in the recovery process- This includes anyone who is part of the client’s life in a significant way. The point is to educate the people suffering from the fallout of the client’s drug addiction and prepare them for changes in behavior that are expected during the recovery process so they can be supportive and understanding.
  7. Encouraging self-help models for the clients- These refer to the widely accepted and incredibly helpful AA/NA meetings that are designed to help people struggling with addiction deal with their core issues and find the strength to overcome their addictions.

Consistently monitoring drug use through urine tests- This is practiced not as a way of monitoring or policing the participants but rather as a method of encouraging the clients not to use drugs at all during the recovery journey.

What Can You Expect From the Matrix Program?

The Matrix Model incorporates various proven therapies in an intense, 16-week program [2], with the goal of providing different integrative methods to aid in addiction recovery. These methods include educating people about addiction, recovery, and relapse and informing them about different treatment options. Much of the work takes place in a group setting headed by a therapist or counselor, who also works one-on-one with all of the participants in the group. The families and loved ones of those struggling with addiction are also encouraged to partake in the recovery process so they can understand their loved one struggling with addiction and support them through their difficulties.

The program is extremely intense, so although the participants may live at home, they will be involved in addiction recovery every day of the week. Typically, there are three formal group/individual sessions with the therapist and AA/NA group meetings on the other days of the week. 

Features of the Matrix Model of Addiction Treatment 

Here are the main features of the Matrix Model:

  • One-on-one therapy- These sessions are in place to evaluate the client’s progress, address personal concerns, and develop a trusting, positive relationship between therapist and client. The therapist will use motivational interviewing skills and CBT techniques, and family members and significant others may partake in some of these sessions.
  • Early Recovery Skills (ERS) Group- The first eight sessions, which take place within the first month of the Matrix Model, focus on educating the clients on their ability to overcome their addiction with the help of group and individual work. Goals are determined, daily schedules are planned, and progress is monitored.
  • Relapse Prevention Group- These groups take place at the beginning and end of every week. The group members are taught that drug relapse is not a random event- there are always triggers and negative behaviors that precede engaging with the drug. They learn tools, strategies, and mindset shifts to prevent relapse and stay sober.
  • Family Education Group- During 12 weekly sessions, family members are encouraged to attend group sessions so they can learn about the biology of addiction, the reason for behavioral changes in their loved one, the recovery process, and how they can best help and support their loved one.
  • Social Support Group- In the third month of treatment, participants are taught social skills to help them integrate into society drug-free. They learn how to deal with rejection, disappointment, and other uncomfortable emotions in ways other than turning to addiction.
  • 12-step meetings- Participants are encouraged to take advantage of self-help programs outside the formal Matrix Model structure to learn more tools and acquire a larger social support system.



The Matrix Model is an incredible program that is effective in helping people struggling with addiction find their path to recovery. Many studies have proven that it is exponentially more effective than other treatment options, with participants staying sober and enjoying a better quality of life after completing the program fully. If you or your loved one is dealing with drug addiction, reach out to Avenues Recovery today to start your journey to sobriety in a professional and caring environment. The drug-free life you want is closer than you think! 

Back to top




Check your insurance

We received your insurance request!

We will get back to you shortly. While you wait... you may find our resource blog helpful. Take a look below: