Reinforcement-based outpatient treatment for opiate and cocaine abusers

Elizabeth C. Katz, Karin Gruber, Mary Ann Chutuape, Maxine L. Stitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A reinforcement-based intensive outpatient treatment was delivered to 37 recently detoxified, inner city, heroin and/or cocaine abusers who did not want methadone treatment. Attendance was scheduled and urine collected daily for the first 2 weeks, four times weekly for the next 2 weeks, and then thrice weekly for the final 8 weeks. As attendance incentives, patients received transportation assistance (bus tokens), and $28-$30 per week in vouchers to be spent on activities/items chosen and agreed upon with their counselor. As abstinence incentives, patients received weekend supported recreational activities, lunches, $42-$45 per week in vouchers, and rent or utilities payment ($150 over 4 weeks). Total potential earnings was $1, 435 per patient; actual mean earnings was $583. Forty-three percent (n=16) completed 10 or more weeks of treatment. These 16 long-stay patients submitted 92% (SD=19) opiate- and cocaine-negative urines during their enrollment compared with 56% (SD=42) drug-negative urines submitted by 21 drop-outs, F(1, 35)=9.99, p=0.003. Overall, 32% of clients became employed during their treatment episode; 94% of long-stay patients were employed at the end of their treatment episode. Patients who were drug-positive at intake were highly likely to drop out. Treatment outcomes compare favorably with those reported in the literature for outpatient nonmethadone treatment of opiate and cocaine abusers. Continued evaluation of this new treatment appears warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Abstinence
  • Behavior therapy
  • Drug abuse
  • Heroin abuse
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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