Employment-based abstinence reinforcement following inpatient detoxification in HIV-positive opioid and/or cocaine-dependent patients

Kelly E. Dunn, Michael Fingerhood, Conrad J. Wong, Dace S. Svikis, Paul Nuzzo, Kenneth Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Employment-based reinforcement interventions have been used to promote abstinence from drugs among chronically unemployed injection drug users. The current study used an employment-based reinforcement intervention to promote opioid and cocaine abstinence among opioid and/or cocaine-dependent, HIV-positive participants who had recently completed a brief inpatient detoxification. Participants (n = 46) were randomly assigned to an abstinence and work group that was required to provide negative urine samples in order to enter the workplace and to earn incentives for work (n = 16), a work-only group that was permitted to enter the workplace and to earn incentives independent of drug use (n = 15), and a no-voucher control group that did not receive any incentives for working (n = 15) over a 26-week period. The primary outcome was urinalysis-confirmed opioid, cocaine, and combined opioid/cocaine abstinence. Participants were 78% male and 89% African American. Results showed no significant betweengroups differences in urinalysis-verified drug abstinence or HIV risk behaviors during the 6-month intervention. The work-only group had significantly greater workplace attendance, and worked more minutes per day when compared to the no-voucher group. Several features of the study design, including the lack of an induction period, setting the threshold for entering the workplace too high by requiring immediate abstinence from several drugs, and increasing the risk of relapse by providing a brief detoxification that was not supported by any continued pharmacological intervention, likely prevented the workplace from becoming established as a reinforcer that could be used to promote drug abstinence. However, increases in workplace attendance have important implications for adult training programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental and clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Contingency management
  • HIV
  • Incentive
  • Injection drug use
  • Therapeutic workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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