BRISTOL, Pa. (April 22, 2021) – With the help of a $10,000 grant from TODAY, Inc., the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. has provided Bucks County treatment providers, including Gaudenzia Lower Bucks, with training in response to current drug trends. A key treatment provider, Gaudenzia Lower Bucks, based in Bristol, Pa., officially launches a treatment model based on the training which aims at stemming the surge in psycho-stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, that are sweeping through Bucks County and the Philadelphia region.
The Matrix Model, developed by CLARE MATRIX, a California-based treatment center, is being adopted by Gaudenzia Lower Bucks to serve clients in its residential programs with stimulant use disorder. Federally approved by organizations such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the model emphasizes cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational therapy, which have shown to be especially effective for those with stimulant use disorder. The model has been used in the treatment of more than 6,000 cocaine and 2,500 methamphetamine users nationwide.
Beginning this month, Gaudenzia Lower Bucks is implementing the model through five separate, but clinically-integrated components: individual sessions, early recovery group skills, relapse prevention groups, family education groups, and social support groups. The components are interwoven with specialized care to help those whose addictions are tied to traumatic experiences avoid triggers.
“Gaudenzia is excited to continue its longstanding legacy of breaking down barriers to access of treatment while simultaneously propelling into the future of care with this evidence-based treatment program for those struggling in Bucks County,” said Bill Wilson, Chief Program Officer for Gaudenzia, Inc.
Implementation of the Matrix Model comes as use of psycho-stimulants are on the rise in Bucks County due to a variety of factors, including COVID-19. People who use stimulants as their primary drug of choice accounted for nearly 20 percent of Gaudenzia Lower Bucks’ client population as of the end of the 2020 fiscal year. Sixty-six percent of the clients used opioids/opiates primarily, and 14.7 percent use alcohol as their primary choice.
“The Matrix model was originally designed to treat users of all drugs,” Wilson said. “However, studies show that people who use stimulants as their primary drug of choices have slightly better outcomes from treatment under this model than those with other substances.”
In Bucks County, fatal substance use overdoses were on the rise again in 2020 after trending downward during the previous two years, according to the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. This can be attributed to factors brought by COVID-19.
“The distress and unpredictability of a pandemic can certainly lead to increased substance use,” said Diane Rosati, Executive Director of the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. “There can be many reasons behind the increase in substance use, including isolation, unemployment, access to substances, even unexpected revenue such as unemployment or stimulus payments, can be a trigger, especially for people who are new to recovery. Increased relapse, or reoccurrence of drug use, is a concerning trend that we are monitoring.”
Lea Harvey, Program Director for Gaudenzia Lower Bucks, is confident in the Matrix Model’s ability to not only treat clients, but also help them avoid substance use for the long term. “What’s great about the Matrix Model is that there’s such a large focus on preventative work. The model will help us intervene in the using process and give our clients the necessary relapse prevention skills to help steer them away from the environment whence they came and close the door to substances permanently,” Harvey said.
The Bensalem police department, which has partnered with Gaudenzia Lower Bucks to help steer local residents away from the criminal justice system and into treatment, supports Gaudenzia, Inc.’s implementation of the Matrix Model.
“As we start to see an increase in stimulant abuse across Bucks County, we can always rely on centers like Gaudenzia who understand the need to bring more treatment not only to other aspects of abuse, but also to this ever-growing problem of stimulant abuse,” said Fred Harran, Director of the Bensalem Police Department.
Harran added, “We’ve had a great working relationship with Gaudenzia for the past five to six years. Whenever an issue arises in our community, Gaudenzia is one of the first to step up to assist. Law enforcement and treatment working together is the norm, and Gaudenzia can certainly serve as the model for that relationship.”