Contingency Management Helps Veterans Stay Drug-Free

Veterans, especially recent veterans, have been hard hit by the opioid epidemic and the rise in other substance use disorders (SUD). Problems of chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) make substance use and abuse more likely.

Since 2011, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has treated SUD with contingency management (CM), a technique that promotes abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The technique is simple, costs little, and boasts a high success rate. More than 4,000 veterans have participated in a 12-week contingency management program at more than 100 VA medical centers.

The CM method has not been widely used by private addiction rehabilitation facilities or accepted by many insurers. For example, Medicaid, which in 2014 paid for 21% of all SUD treatment in the United States, does not cover contingency management.

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