therapy session The Matrix Model was initially developed as a method of treatment to specifically help people recovering from stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine addiction. The treatment usually takes place as an outpatient program.

The Matrix Model is a highly structured, evidence-based model that is used worldwide. It has helped thousands of cocaine, speed, and meth-addicted people develop the tools they need to break their addiction patterns and pursue lasting sobriety. It is also now used to help other people find the structure and tools they need to get and stay clean and sober.

What is the Matrix Model?

The Matrix Model is a highly-structured model for treatment centers that puts a lot of planning and help into the life of a newly clean and sober person. Treatment personnel play many roles in the Matrix Model. A professional, such as a clinician or addiction counselor, manages the program.

Counselors work closely with their clients as they learn more about their addiction and recovery. This counselor helps their client become more grounded in the recovery lifestyle.

Many programs for people in recovery still feature outdated models and negative reinforcement. The Matrix Model is an alternative, more modern approach to addiction recovery. Rather than negative reinforcement, the client has a cheerleader who helps them take new steps toward a better, healthier, and happier life. After all, addiction isn’t a character flaw, it’s a disease.

Why Was It Originally Developed For Stimulants?

The Matrix Model of therapy was created for people who were addicted to stimulants because they often experience intense cravings that can’t be altered through Medication-Assisted Treatment. (People who are addicted to opioids have drugs that can help lessen withdrawal or cravings.) Unfortunately, people addicted to drugs like meth don’t have any medication that can help with either withdrawal or cravings. Their withdrawal symptoms can be very intense, and the “ride” for the first month of recovery may feel like a roller coaster. It’s natural for a newly sober person to feel emotionally “raw” when they get sober.

People who are addicted to other drugs, including alcohol, can also experience intense cravings. These cravings are why the model has opened up to other people with addictions. The intensive, one-on-one nature of the Matrix Model has helped people from all walks of life get sober and learn new tools to use in their recovery journey.

Matrix Model Therapy

Clients who are a part of the Matrix Model program2 will have a staff member that works with them closely. This may be a drug counselor, licensed clinical social worker, or other treatment professional. Together, the client and their counselor will begin to form a treatment plan together. Trust between the two is established over time. Clients are not shamed for past behavior but instead guided to learn more about their addiction and its aftermath.

In substance abuse therapy, it’s essential to foster trust and understanding. Many people with addiction issues also have other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or PTSD. During treatment, clients will learn more about their addictions, triggers, and destructive behavior.

Sometimes this intensive therapy will also explore past trauma and help the client understand how it continues to influence their lives today. Learning how this trauma manifests itself in their daily life can help them develop new coping patterns.

Most people don’t come into a treatment program filled with self-knowledge. For many people new to recovery, it’s hard to confront the truth about their addiction. The Matrix Model is adjusted as a client grows, giving priority to new goals as they are needed. This helps a person build a flexible, safe program of recovery that works.

Evidence-Based Modeling

A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration1 study found that people who attend treatment centers that use the Matrix Model were 38 percent stick it out than others. Many people who go to treatment don’t stay the full course, especially in outpatient programs.

The people enrolled in the program study also were less likely to engage in risky behavior, especially when it came to sexual activity. The study also implied that personalized attention was one of the things that made the most significant difference.

People in recovery from addiction need a plan, plenty of support, and education about their addiction and ways to cope with it. They also need help learning to cope with new feelings and new situations, mostly because newly sober people are vulnerable to relapse and destructive behaviors.

Accepting Addiction and Being Honest

People with substance use disorders often have some denial about their addiction, even if they have admitted they have a problem. Denial is common among people with addictions. The brain has to help a person justify the drug that their body is craving, which means that it will help that person manufacture reasons to get high or drunk.

In recovery, people learn to accept their lives and understand what role addiction has played in their current or past circumstances. For example, many people who have substance use issues have problems with their finances or their relationships. For many people in recovery, a lot of wreckage is a part of the story. Addiction is painful and scary at times. Healing from the pain of addiction is a part of the recovery journey and will take time, but it’s worth it!

Here are some aspects of the Matrix Model that can help you be successful in recovery:

  • Being as open and honest as possible.
  • Attending all therapy sessions and being on time for each.
  • Asking for help BEFORE you pick up a drink or drug.
  • Staying in the program until the duration.
  • Doing all work (step work, journaling, gratitude lists, etc.) on time and to the best of your ability.
  • Trying your best to stick with your recovery plan, even when it’s difficult.

People in recovery often have to change their day-to-day lives to start their journey. Helping a person understand their own behavior, change their self-talk, and challenge negative beliefs takes time and dedication.

Learning More About Addiction or Mental Health Disorders

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, isn’t a one-size-fits-all disorder. It has symptoms, such as escalating drug use, and the inability to stop using, and drug-seeking behaviors. Most people who go to drug treatment have had trouble ceasing the use of their substance by themselves. Therapy can help newly sober people learn a lot and begin to cope with things that may have triggered them to use in the first place.

Usually, a person with a substance use disorder puts their drug of choice before things that were once important. They may have done something they were ashamed of to use their drug of choice.

People with addictions come from almost every walk of life. While drugs may be more prevalent in certain regions, people are addicted to different substances all over the world. And there are drug treatment programs and 12-step meetings available across the globe, as well.

Recovery is available for those that are willing to do the work. It’s never too late to recover or seek help for an addiction.

There are many options available for people who want to start a clean and sober life once and for all. Please peruse our directory of resources to find a treatment center near you.


1.Counselor’s Family Education Manual, available here.
2.Matrix Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People With Stimulant Use Disorders, available here.