Background: Research on contingency management to treat excessive alcohol use is limited due to feasibility issues with monitoring adherence. This study examined the effectiveness of using transdermal alcohol monitoring as a continuous measure of alcohol use to implement financial contingencies to reduce heavy drinking.
Methods: Twenty-six male and female drinkers (from 21 to 39 years old) were recruited from the community. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment sequences. Sequence 1 received 4 weeks of no financial contingency (i.e., $0) drinking followed by 4 weeks each of $25 and then $50 contingency management; Sequence 2 received 4 weeks of $25 contingency management followed by 4 weeks each of no contingency (i.e., $0) and then $50 contingency management. During the $25 and $50 contingency management conditions, participants were paid each week when the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM-II™) identified no heavy drinking days.
Results: Participants in both contingency management conditions had fewer drinking episodes and reduced frequencies of heavy drinking compared to the $0 condition. Participants randomized to Sequence 2 (receiving $25 contingency before the $0 condition) exhibited less frequent drinking and less heavy drinking in the $0 condition compared to participants from Sequence 1.
Conclusions: Transdermal alcohol monitoring can be used to implement contingency management programs to reduce excessive alcohol consumption.
Keywords: Contingency management; Excessive alcohol use; Transdermal alcohol monitoring.
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