Contingency management and addiction

Contingency management (CM), sometimes called motivational incentives, is a behavioral treatment based on the principle of positive reinforcement. CM has been seen to be highly effective in the treatment of addiction through a system of rewards that encourage healthy behaviors. When used in conjunction with other recovery therapies, CM contributes to an increased rate of success in patients.

At San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC), we use a mix of holistic and evidence-based therapies, including contingency management, that give our patients the best chance at recovery and long-term sobriety. We offer a wide variety of inpatient and outpatient programs that provide the full continuum of care from detox to aftercare. Contact us at 866.957.7885 to learn more about what we can offer.

What Is Contingency Management?

It's a part of human nature to seek out positive experiences or rewards. When someone is incentivized for an action, it's only natural to want to sustain and repeat the action that caused the reward. CM is a behavioral intervention that encourages positive behavioral changes through a system of incentives. It's based on two core principles:

  • Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated
  • Behaviors that are repeated will become habits

Contingency management is used not just in clinical settings, but in real-life situations as well. When a parent rewards a child for doing their chores, or when a company pays out bonuses for employee performance, these are examples of CM at work. It is premised on the idea that once behaviors have been internalized through repetition, these behaviors will persist even after the system of rewards is no longer present.

What Are The Benefits of Contingency Management and Addiction Treatment?

Addiction affects the brain’s reward centers. Therefore, withdrawal is often perceived as a period that is devoid of pleasure or joy. It's possible that because of the mind-altering effects of these substances, patients are no longer able to feel positive emotions without using. When CM is implemented as part of treatment, it provides them with positive stimuli. This can help their brain to renormalize this emotional response.

Though it can be argued that a person’s health and well-being should be incentive enough, this might seem too remote and uncertain to someone in recovery. CM aims to provide a substitute for the immediate feeling of euphoria that drug or alcohol use causes. There are many ways in which CM can be used to encourage positive behaviors during addiction treatment. Some of the more common are:

  • Incentives for sobriety proven by passing blood or urine drug tests
  • Incentives for attendance in group or individual therapy sessions
  • Incentives for taking prescribed medications

The rewards given are usually tiered, with the value increasing as the patients progress. For example, the incentive for maintaining sobriety will gradually become more valuable or desirable. This depends, of course, on the number of weeks that they have consistently passed their drug test.

Though contingency management can be very effective, it's still better to implement it as part of a treatment program that includes other therapies and any necessary medical interventions. Many factors contribute to recovery, and CM is one of many tools that can be used for effective healing.

Begin an Addiction Rehab Program at San Antonio Recovery Center in Texas

SARC offers a wide variety of programs and services that are individualized to each patient’s unique needs. Our welcoming and comfortable facility provides a safe venue for healing and wellness. We are committed to every patient’s recovery and lifelong sobriety by using evidence-based therapies to ensure the highest rate of success.

At SARC, we work with most insurance providers so that clients can quickly begin treatment. Call us at 866.957.7885 today to start your recovery journey.

Now is the time to focus on your recovery.


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