The Value of Contingency Management Interventions

It can sometimes be difficult for people to remain dedicated to a goal, especially without the proper motivation or incentive.  Hence, many substance abuse treatment providers are turning to contingency management to facilitate the healing process during interventions.  Contingency management is a type of intervention that promotes positive behavioral change with the use of incentives and salient rewards.  They often involve monetary or tangible rewards, such as vouchers, gift cards, or other prizes.  Contingency management is personalized to accommodate the needs of individuals of any age in both clinical and non-clinical settings.


There are a variety of exclusive benefits offered by contingency management that aren’t found elsewhere.  For example, contingency management can be highly effective in producing rapid results and treatment adherence.  Unlike other approaches, which may take months or even years to detect a noticeable change, contingency management often produces results within weeks or even days. A 1994 study (1) compared two groups of individuals undergoing substance abuse treatment over ten weeks.  The first group was given vouchers as a reward for remaining abstinent, whereas the other group was not.  Approximately 75% of the patients who received vouchers successfully finished the treatment, compared to only 40% in the control group that achieved the same outcome (with otherwise the same treatment plan).  This can be particularly beneficial in situations where time is of the essence, or where timed benchmarks track progress, such as with victims of substance abuse.


Contingency management is known for its extreme versatility. It targets a wide variety of behaviors; however, it is mainly used in substance abuse treatment plans.  Another one of the most desirable benefits of contingency management is its cost-effectiveness.  This is because it focuses on changing one’s behavior directly and with intent, rather than spending extended time and resources to attempt to target deep-rooted chemical addictions.  This approach can save time and costs compared to more complex or ineffective methods.

Combining with Other Treatment Methods

Another advantage of contingency management is its ability to be used in combination with other treatment methods.  Research has proven that combining contingency management with cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication-assisted treatment can produce more desirable outcomes with increased efficacy.  A 2001 study (2) compared three groups undergoing substance abuse treatment.  One group received contingency management incentives only, one group received medication-assisted treatment only, and the last group received a combination of both.  Success rates were, by far, the highest in the medication-assisted and contingency management combination group (47%), compared to the contingency management-only group (42.9%) and medication-assisted-only (25.6%) group.  This research shows that contingency management can provide an additional motivator for individuals to accept treatment and comply with their prescribed medications and protocols.

Value of Contingency Management

Don’t understate the value of contingency management. Its speed, efficacy, versatility, and cost-effectiveness make it a valuable tool for promoting positive behavioral change in various uses and settings.  Whether used as an intervention tool or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, contingency management has the potential to help individuals overcome a wide range of behavioral issues and start their road to recovery.

JADE Wellness Can Help

JADE Wellness Center has utilized contingency management for over three years by providing salient rewards for treatment adherence.  Contingency management is combined with counseling services and/or medication-assisted treatment programs at JADE Wellness Center. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to any substance, JADE Wellness is here to help you.  JADE Wellness Center is Pittsburgh’s first comprehensive medication-assisted treatment center, also offering individual and group therapy sessions.  Call us at 412-380-0100 or visit the JADE Wellness Center website to begin your path to recovery.


  1. Higgins ST, Budney AJ, Bickel WK et al. (1994), Incentives improve outcome in outpatient behavioral treatment of cocaine dependence. Arch Gen Psychiatry 51(7):568-576.
  1. Carroll KM, Rounsaville BJ. A perfect platform: combining contingency management with medications for drug abuse. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2007;33(3):343-65. doi: 10.1080/00952990701301319. PMID: 17613963; PMCID: PMC2367002.