Cash Rewards for Quitting Meth

The San Francisco Health Department is offering cash rewards to methamphetamine users who quit using the drug and stay clean, the reported.

Payments of up to $40 per week have been given to meth users who quit. Program participants are required to visit a clinic three times weekly for a drug test; clean urines are rewarded with a check, and participants are not even required to go to counselling as part of the deal, even if they fail a drug test.

“Here I am getting clean, I feel better and I’m getting something for it,” said said former meth addict Robert Bowers. “That means something.”

Experts say that many addicts respond very well to rewards, even small ones, that acknowledge their progress toward sobriety. “You’re using the exact same technique that parents use with their children every day,” said Nancy Petry of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. “It’s behaviour modification and behaviour shaping.”

The 12-week San Francisco program has had 159 participants since November 2004; backers see it as an effective and inexpensive alternative for those who can’t get into treatment or are on waiting lists.

A recent UCLA study found that a cash voucher program for meth addicts was actually more effective in producing clean urine tests than a therapy program lacking a reward component. “Clearly, it wasn’t the money,” said UCLA researcher Steven Shoptaw. “It was the fact that somebody recognized them.”

Source: Los Angeles Times Dec. 28 2005

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