Transdermal alcohol concentration data collected during a contingency management program to reduce at-risk drinking

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Mar 1;148:77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.12.021. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Background: Recently, we demonstrated that transdermal alcohol monitors could be used in a contingency management procedure to reduce problematic drinking; the frequency of self-reported heavy/moderate drinking days decreased and days of no to low drinking increased. These effects persisted for three months after intervention. In the current report, we used the transdermal alcohol concentration (TAC) data collected prior to and during the contingency management procedure to provide a detailed characterization of objectively measured alcohol use.

Methods: Drinkers (n=80) who frequently engaged in risky drinking behaviors were recruited and participated in three study phases: a 4-week Observation phase where participants drank as usual; a 12-week Contingency Management phase where participants received $50 each week when TAC did not exceed 0.03g/dl; and a 3-month Follow-up phase where self-reported alcohol consumption was monitored. Transdermal monitors were worn during the first two phases, where each week they recived $105 for visiting the clinic and wearing the monitor. Outcomes focused on using TAC data to objectively characterize drinking and were used to classify drinking levels as either no, low, moderate, or heavy drinking as a function of weeks and day of week.

Results: Compared to the Observation phase, TAC data indicated that episodes of heavy drinking days during the Contingency Management phase were reduced and episodes of no drinking and low to moderate drinking increased.

Conclusions: These results lend further support for linking transdermal alcohol monitoring with contingency management interventions. Collectively, studies to date indicate that interventions like these may be useful for both abstinence and moderation-based programs.

Keywords: Alcohol; Alcohol detection; Harm reduction; Transdermal alcohol monitoring.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcohol Drinking / trends*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Disease Management*
  • Ethanol / analysis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / psychology
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / trends
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Report
  • Skin Absorption*
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol