Methadone maintenance patients who earned chances to win prizes by providing stimulant-negative urine samples were twice as likely as those who received usual care to attain abstinence from these drugs in a study conducted at six outpatient programs. Dr. Maxine Stitzer and colleagues in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network found that adding an abstinence-based incentive to usual care—daily methadone and individual and group counseling at least once a month—tripled the likelihood of continuous stimulant abstinence for 4 or more weeks during the 12-week study. Prizes for the incentive program cost about $120 for each of the 388 participants, on average, or $1.42 a day. Prize-based incentives have proven successful in helping stimulant abusers attain abstinence during community-based treatment (see "Low-Cost Incentives Improve Outcomes in Stimulant Abuse Treatment"), and the new findings demonstrate the intervention's efficacy for a diverse population of opioid-addicted patients receiving usual care in typical treatment settings.
Archives of General Psychiatry 63(2):201-208, 2006. [Abstract]