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Small gift cards can be a key tool to stop stimulant addiction, but stigma stands in the way

·2 mins

Clyde Davis battled addiction for over nine years. He tried various treatment programs before reaching his insurance maximum and being forced to discharge. Three years ago, he became one of the first participants in a new contingency management program at a nonprofit addiction treatment center. Contingency management uses positive reinforcement as a behavioral treatment for stimulant addiction. It has been proven as the most effective treatment for stimulant addiction but remains underutilized. The program changed Davis’s life, providing rewards and counseling that motivated him to stay clean. Stimulants, like methamphetamine and cocaine, contribute to the national overdose crisis. Overdose deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine have significantly increased in recent years. Effective treatments for both opioid and stimulant addiction are necessary and urgent. Currently, there are medication-based therapies for opioid addiction, but no such treatments exist for stimulant addiction. Contingency management is a highly effective behavioral treatment for stimulant addiction. It encourages abstinence using positive reinforcement and has shown positive outcomes in multiple clinical trials. Program structures may vary, but most are 12 weeks long and require participants to submit negative urine drug tests in exchange for rewards, such as vouchers or gift cards. Consistency is critical to recovery, and the brain can heal over time from chronic exposure to stimulants. Contingency management has been shown to reduce complications of substance use, promote better health outcomes, and improve social relationships. However, it is not a perfect solution for everyone and should be used in conjunction with other approaches to achieve well-rounded recovery.