Addiction Treatment

What Is Contingency Management for Addiction Treatment?

Written By:

Becky Babb

What Is Contingency Management for Addiction Treatment?

Contingency management for treatment of drug addiction is a common sense approach that rewards good behavior while punishing negative behavior or adverse actions. A recovering addict who is enrolled in a treatment program that practices contingency management might receive benefits such as extra free time or vouchers for special prizes if he demonstrates that he has successfully avoided drugs or alcohol for a specific period of time. Alternately, he will lose privileges and be subject to negative reports if he does lapse back into drug or alcohol use while he is in treatment. Addictions can develop when individuals connect good feelings with drugs or alcohol. Contingency management mirrors this stimulus-response behavior by training a recovering addict to connect different good feelings with abstinence from drugs or alcohol.

Contingency Management for Addiction Treatment

Contingency management works best when it is implemented consistently and when rewards or punishment are meted out in close proximity to specific behavioral events. An addict who proves abstinence for a period of one week, for example, should be rewarded immediately at the conclusion of that week rather than at some later time. Likewise, if the addict has not been abstinent, his privileges should be promptly taken away. Any delays between the behavior and the response will weaken the connection between the two events and will reduce the overall effectiveness of a contingency management program.Addiction counselors have reported that contingency management is particularly effective in keeping recovering addicts from dropping out of rehab programs. In a sense, contingency management is an objective form of goal setting that follows the best practices in setting goals during recovery. A goal can be something as simple as abstaining from drugs or alcohol for seventy-two hours. This goal is specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. Therapists believe that achieving a goal is its own reward that fosters even further goals. By adding additional positive reinforcement into the goal via contingency management, both achieving the goal and receiving the reinforcement will increase the likelihood of success in addiction recovery. Not only will a recovering addict be more likely to stick with his rehab program, but he will also comply with other recommendations from practitioners, and he will reach beyond his recovery to develop a new and more positive lifestyle that continues to reward his positive compliance.Contingency management programs can also change an addict’s perspective that a rehab program is itself some form of punishment. Many addicts are forced into rehab by a punitive legal system or by well-meaning families and friends. Entering rehab with the wrong attitude can be a prescription for failure. Contingency management has been shown to reverse this negative perception.

Please call the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, at 512-360-3600 for more information about how contingency management programs can help you if you have a drug or alcohol addiction problem.

We can assess your specific situation to determine if you are a good candidate for contingency management or some other program that will get you past your addiction.

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