Financial incentives to promote extended smoking abstinence in opioid-maintained patients: a randomized trial

Addiction. 2016 May;111(5):903-12. doi: 10.1111/add.13264. Epub 2016 Jan 23.


Background and aims: Prior studies by our group demonstrated the efficacy of a brief but intensive behavioral intervention for producing initial smoking abstinence among opioid-dependent patients. In the present study, our aim was to promote longer-duration abstinence in this population. Following an initial 2-week incentive intervention for smoking abstinence, we examined whether a 10-week maintenance arm involving continuation of contingent reinforcement will produce greater smoking abstinence than a similar duration of noncontingent reinforcement.

Design: Randomized, 12-week, parallel-group study.

Setting: Out-patient research clinic in Burlington, Vermont, USA.

Participants: Opioid-maintained smokers (n = 88) who provided breath carbon monoxide and urinary cotinine specimens and received contingent reinforcement for smoking abstinence during weeks 1-2 (phase 1), with 63 randomized on day 14 to an extended contingent (EC; n = 31) or extended noncontingent (EN; n = 32) experimental condition for weeks 3-12 (phase 2).

Intervention and control: The EC condition consisted of voucher values that escalated across consecutive negative samples until they reached $30, after which they remained at $30 per negative sample. A positive or a missing sample resulted in no vouchers for that day and reset the value of the next negative same to $9. Two consecutive negatives returned the schedule to the pre-reset value. The EN control condition consisted of vouchers delivered for providing scheduled samples, but independent of smoking status.

Measurements: The primary outcome was percentage of biochemically abstinent samples during phase 2. Secondary measures included abstinence status at final study visit, complete abstinence, participants' longest duration of continuous abstinence, cotinine and carbon monoxide (CO) levels and self-reported cigarettes per day.

Findings: EC participants achieved greater smoking abstinence during phase 2 than EN participants [46.7 versus 23.5% negative samples, respectively; odds ratio (OR) = 2.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.16-7.65, χ(2) 1 (=) 5.0, P = 0.02]. When longest duration of continuous abstinence was compared between experimental groups, EC participants achieved twice the mean duration of continuous abstinence compared with EN participants (3.31 versus 1.68 weeks; t61 = 1.83, P = 0.07). An effect of experimental condition was also seen on mean cotinine levels (42.5 versus 210.6 ng/ml, respectively; F1,61 =5.9, P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Among opioid-maintained smokers receiving an initial period of daily contingent incentives, a contingent reinforcement intervention appears to be more effective at extending smoking abstinence than noncontingent reinforcement over 10 weeks.

Trial registration: NCT00718835.

Keywords: Behavioral; buprenorphine; contingency management; incentive; methadone; opioid dependence; smoking abstinence.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Breath Tests
  • Bupropion / therapeutic use
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / economics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking Cessation / economics*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Bupropion
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Cotinine

Associated data