Give them prizes, and they will come: contingency management for treatment of alcohol dependence

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2000 Apr;68(2):250-7. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.68.2.250.


This study evaluated the efficacy of a contingency management (CM) procedure that provided opportunities to win prizes as reinforcers. At intake to outpatient treatment, 42 alcohol-dependent veterans were randomly assigned to receive standard treatment or standard treatment plus CM, in which they earned the chance to win prizes for submitting negative Breathalyzer samples and completing steps toward treatment goals. Eighty-four percent of the CM participants were retained in treatment for an 8-week period compared with 22% of the standard treatment participants (p < .001). By the end of the treatment period, 69% of those receiving CM were still abstinent, but 61% of those receiving standard treatment had used alcohol (p < .05). These results support the efficacy of this CM procedure. Participants earned an average of $200 in prizes. This CM procedure may be suitable for use in standard treatment settings because prizes can be solicited from the community.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Token Economy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology*