Incentives For Avoiding Drugs

Financial gain for negative drug tests work when they are fixed or they increase in value

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Does the hope for more money in the future outweigh the desire for an immediate payoff? Research may prove that an incentive is an incentive no matter how you slice it.

A recent study tested increasing the value of incentives to fixed value incentives in pregnant addicts. Results found very little difference between the rates of negative drug tests and incentive structures.

"Talk to a doctor if you need help with an addiction."

Hendrée E. Jones, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland, led investigations into incentive programs for pregnant women with substance addictions.

For the small study, 90 pregnant women were enrolled in the Drug Abuse Incentive Systems (DAISY) study for 13 weeks.

Contingency management (CM) is when people are rewarded for good behavior. In the case of this study, pregnant women were given drug tests and then rewarded for negative tests.

Vouchers were given to the women with negative drug tests that could be exchanged for gift certificates or merchandise.

Rewards for the escalating group started at a $7.50 value and went up $1 with every drug test, which were given every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Rewards for the fixed scale group were at a $25 value for the duration of the study.

This study aimed to determine whether an escalating reward schedule would produce better results than a fixed reward schedule.

After five weeks and 14 drug tests, negative drug tests for the escalating group were 8.1 and 7.4 for the fixed group.

Dr. Jones said, “These results further the scientific knowledge regarding CM treatment in opioid-dependent pregnant women by supporting the finding that the escalating and fixed CM schedules produce similar amounts of drug negative urine samples early in treatment.”

This study was published in September in Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
September 11, 2012
Last Updated:
September 14, 2012