Contingency Management

If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse and you’ve decided that it’s time to kick the habit, you might wonder how to do that. Everyone says that “acceptance is the first step,” but what does that mean?

You may have accepted that you need help, but what are the following steps?

If this sounds like something you or a loved one is going through, read on to see how you might be able to use Contingency Management to help with your issue.

What Is Contingency Management?

There are many treatments out there, and all of them claim that they can help with substance abuse and with helping a patient curb their dependency on harmful substances. However, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t and what the best method might be for you or your loved ones.

That’s where contingency management comes into play. But, again, CM is a highly effective treatment that exists specifically to help patients treat their substance use and other disorders that might be related to that.

CM differs from other therapeutical services because it’s one of the only ones that provide patients with tangible prizes for reaching specific goals.

Think back to when you were younger, and you’d get a gold star on a perfect homework assignment, or you’d be given a pen if you happened to read two books a week.

This type of therapy follows the same principles. For example, if you dangle a carrot in front of a horse, the horse will move in an attempt to eat the carrot.

As such, CM works under the methodology of giving tangible objects that will be used to help modify a patient’s behavior – and it’s been found to be extremely effective.

The principle behind the idea is that if positive behavior is reinforced and negative behavior remains unrewarded, the patient will want to do something that allows them to get the positive reward again.

What Is The Purpose Of Contingency Management In Substance Abuse?

CM has become more popular in recent decades because it pushes against the idea that, just by being substance abusers, people are automatically “bad.”

Many facilities will choose a “tough love” approach to kick out a recovering patient who has relapsed to show them that it’s rougher without aid than it is with it.

Although that works for some patients, it ultimately alienates more people than it helps, meaning that fewer individuals seek out help or believe seeking help will be good for them.

On the flipside, CM strives to modify the behaviors of substance abusers in a more supportive manner.

For example, in many CM treatments at various facilities, the clinician may request that a patient leave a urine sample behind on their way out the door. If the urine sample comes back clean, the next time the patient returns to the facility, they will receive a prize.

These prizes are typically monetary vouchers that can be used to exchange food and the like. Still, some vouchers can also be used at retail locations, restaurants, movies, electronics stores, etc.

The purpose of CM is to help patients rather than punish them for their dependencies. That is one of the most significant reasons why contingency management has succeeded where other substance abuse treatment methods have failed.

What Are The Key Components Of Contingency Management?

As you may be beginning to guess, the key components of contingency management are to reward good behavior and do nothing for bad behavior. Similar to when you’re training a new pet, it’s the same principle.

At its core, CM believes that people can be better than they are. It believes that they need external incentives to help them be the person they want to be! As such, CM rewards good behavior.

CM also takes it further by allowing patients the power of choice and individuality. Some patients are given the option of choosing what sorts of prizes they want and the scope of their parameters to get the rewards. Some patients may also lock themselves into contracts with their practitioners to raise the stakes of their attempts at good behavior.

Because of how malleable and easy CM is to tailor it to each patient, it also has the hidden benefit of helping the patient to feel seen. Rather than making the patient feel as if they might be a cog in the machine, which is treated like every other patient, using this method and varying the prizes for each patient will help them believe that you want to help them and can help to inspire them to do better!

Contingency Management VS. Other Therapy Approaches

Even though contingency management exists, this is not to say that other therapy approaches are bad or wrong. Unfortunately, with so many billions of people on the planet, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for every person needing help.

Some people will respond better to the “tough love” approach, which would never have benefitted from a system such as CM. But, on the flip side, some would wither under a “tough love” or more heavy-handed treatment who will flourish with CM.

Having said that, more people tend to benefit from the positivity and praise that is inherent to CM. Still, the application of other techniques can get more people the help they need, but it also allows CM to see what the different methods are doing and if there’s anything beneficial there that they can use to better their technique.

It’s not a set science when it comes to health and curbing negative psychological behaviors. However, having different therapy approaches can ensure that a more comprehensive number of patients are being reached.

Get Started At North Star Treatment Services

If you’re looking for help for you or a loved one, you will want to make sure that you’re working with a facility that has experience and knowledge on the best ways to keep the patient on the road to recovery.

Here at North Star Treatment, we are that professional facility. We have an elite team of professionals who only want what is best for the patient, and everyone who works here at North Star strives to make sure that the patients only receive the best care, the most kindness, and extreme amounts of compassion.

If this is something you want for your loved one, reach out to us at North Star Treatment.

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083448/
  2. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/contingency-management-addiction-treatment