Permanently breaking free of stimulant abuse can be particularly challenging because stimulants can have such a profound impact on the way a person thinks and feels. It is usual for those in early recovery to feel depressed, lacking in energy, and sometimes even suicidal. There is a huge temptation to relapse because the individual in this situation can become convinced that life without stimulants is not worth living. This is why an approach such as the matrix model can be so effective.
The matrix model originated in the US during the eighties. At first, it was used primarily for treating cocaine addiction, but it has been shown to be effective for all types of stimulant abuse. This is the second most widely abused class of drug worldwide (there is believed to be about 35 million users), and it is a significant problem in the UK. The traditional approaches for dealing with addiction are not as effective when it comes to stimulants, but the matrix model has been designed specifically for the treatment of this type of substance abuse.
The matrix model is an outpatient approach to stimulant recovery in which the goal is to assist the individual to achieve long-term recovery. It involves a combination of other existing approaches such as support groups, recovery fellowships, relapse prevention workshops, family education, early recovery skills workshops, and drug education. The goal is to provide the affected individual with a wide range of tools so that they are better able to manage the challenges of long-term recovery. It is also usual for those participating in this sort of programme to have regular urine testing.
The goal of the matrix model is to encourage the person to see the process through from start to finish so that they are then ready for the challenges of sobriety. It is important that the individual fully commits to the programme and engages in all the activities. It is also vital that they remain stimulant-free during the process, which is why regular urine testing is needed.
A named therapist takes responsibility for each patient and it is the job of this professional to act more like a coach and a friend rather than an authority figure. This therapeutic relationship is very important because if the patient does not trust their therapist, he or she will not be able to get the most from the programme. The purpose of the therapist is help the individual feel more in control of his or her life; this is accomplished through increased self-esteem and self-efficacy.
A number of studies have been conducted into the effectiveness of the matrix model, and it does seem to be an effective approach. It is not something that is likely to work for everyone, but the fact that it deals specifically with the needs of stimulant abusers increases the likelihood of success. One aspect of this approach is that it focuses on different elements of the recovery process, which means that the patient feels fully supported and able to face the likely challenges that will come their way. The fact that the matrix model also involves the rest of the family can also increase its effectiveness as a means of dealing with stimulant abuse.
The outpatient matrix model is a good option for those with stimulant addiction problems who are not able to enter an inpatient programme. Ideally, a combination of rehab and an effective aftercare package offers the best hope for recovery. Many rehab programmes already feature most of the elements of the matrix model, providing this in a very intensive manner.