New milestone for drug treatment program in the Riverland

A major milestone has been reached in the Marshall Liberal Government’s delivery of a trial drug rehabilitation program for people in the Riverland who are dependent on methamphetamine.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the State Government has engaged South Australian-based PsychMed to deliver the Riverland’s MATRIX treatment trial which will launch in early 2019.

“The 16-week innovative program will offer an evidence-based road to recovery, delivered by trained psychologists with the expertise to help people overcome drug dependency,” Minister Wade said.

“Sadly, individuals who use methamphetamine, including the more potent crystal methamphetamine, suffer a range of negative health consequences and to recover, specialist treatment is sometimes required.

“The MATRIX program also includes structured opportunities for participants’ loved ones to be constructively involved in the recovery process.”

The program, based on a treatment formula used in the United States for more than 30 years, combines practical skills training with social support to help people recover from drug dependency.

PsychMed Program Director, Dr Quentin Black, said the organisation will work with the State Government and Riverland community to develop a model of treatment to help individuals and families in regional Australia.

“We feel that the Riverland, with its strong community cohesiveness and history of innovation, is an ideal location,” Dr Black said.

Minister Wade said PsychMed was already delivering South Australia’s three existing MATRIX recovery programs – all of which are Commonwealth funded and located in metropolitan Adelaide.

“The Riverland community deserves the same opportunity – the State Government will spend $580,000 over two years to fund the local trial of the PsychMed MATRIX program,” Mr Wade said.

“People who find themselves impacted by drug dependence should be able to access quality, evidence-based care to help them recover, regardless of whether they live in the city or country.”

Marina Bowshall, State Director, Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia, said the proportion of South Australians who reported having used methamphetamine in the previous 12 months had decreased from 2.5 per cent in 2010 to 1.9 per cent in 2016.

“However, national wastewater data also shows, for those people who are using the drug, their use has increased in recent years,” Ms Bowshall said.

“Addressing this changing pattern of use through effective intervention and treatment is important.”

Minister Wade said the State Government shared regional communities’ concern about the harm caused by methamphetamine use.

“The State Government looks forward to working with PsychMed to realise the full benefits of the MATRIX program in the local community and to the first participants taking part next year,” Minister Wade said.

The program includes supported detoxification (primarily in an outpatient setting), intensive education sessions and random urine testing.

Importantly, it includes ongoing support from psychologists as well as from consumers, who have lived experience of addressing their drug use.

The Riverland pilot program is expected to run for two years and following an independent review, the State Government will consider extending the MATRIX program to other identified areas of need in regional South Australia.

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