A comparison of contingency management and cognitive-behavioral approaches during methadone maintenance treatment for cocaine dependence

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;59(9):817-24. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.59.9.817.


Background: This study compared 2 psychosocial approaches for the treatment of cocaine dependence: contingency management (CM) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Methods: Patients with cocaine dependence who were receiving methadone maintenance treatment (n = 120) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions: CM, CBT, combined CM and CBT (CBT + CM), or treatment as usual (ie, methadone maintenance treatment program only [MMTP only]) (n = 30 per cell). The CM procedures and CBT materials were comparable to those used in previously published research. The active study period was 16 weeks, requiring 3 clinic visits per week. Participants were evaluated during treatment and at 17, 26, and 52 weeks after admission.

Results: Urinalysis results during the 16-week treatment period show that participants assigned to the 2 groups featuring CM had significantly superior in-treatment urinalysis results, whereas urinalysis results from participants in the CBT group were not significantly different than those from the MMTP-only group. At week 17, self-reported days of cocaine use were significantly reduced from baseline levels for all 3 treatment groups but not for the MMTP-only group. At the 26-week and 52-week follow-up points, CBT participants showed substantial improvement, resulting in equivalent performance with the CM groups as indicated by both urinalysis and self-reported cocaine use data.

Conclusions: Study findings provide solid evidence of efficacy for CM and CBT. Although the effect of CM is significantly greater during treatment, CBT appears to produce comparable long-term outcomes. There was no evidence of an additive effect for the 2 treatments in the CM + CBT group.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Cocaine / urine
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / urine
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Patient Compliance
  • Reward
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cocaine
  • Methadone