Matrices and bites: The base of the evidence base for addiction treatment

First published: 09 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

The presentation presents the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Matrices and associated on-line courses.

Launched in 2013, the matrices ( are portals to the most important research and guidance for British treatment services and for practitioners, managers, and commissioners. They can be used to train staff, for professional development, or just to re-experience the revelations made by the seminal and key studies of the past 50+ years. Familiarity with this research and guidance can be seen as a quality indicator, demonstrating that the staff of a service are aware of the evidential foundations of their work.

Each matrix consists of a 5×5 table totalling 25 cells, segmenting treatment in to the major practical divisions relevant to its effectiveness and delivery. Within each cell are the main historical and contemporary research landmarks on these different aspects of treatment, reviews offering a panoramic view, guidance based on this research, and an option to explore beyond these dozen or so selected documents.

Matrix Bites are a weekly cell-by-cell introduction to the matrices cumulating in to a year-long foundation course on the treatment evidence base.

The presentation drills down to one of the studies in one of the 25 cells of the alcohol matrix. This sample US study from the 1950s illustrates the riches to be found in the matrices and the contemporary relevance of their seminal studies. It details how founding NIAAA director Morris Chafetz transformed the treatment of skid-row alcoholics at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The matrices were developed for the UK by Drug and Alcohol Findings for the Substance Misuse Skills Consortium to promote the development of drug and alcohol treatment services and the treatment workforce. Funding for the project as a whole and for the matrices is provided by Alcohol Research UK. In 2014 the Society for the Study of Addiction joined the other partners in financially and practically supporting this initiative, funding the first drug treatment matrix bites course.


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Mr Mike Ashton