Adding Positive Reinforcement In Justice Settings

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Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment-National Library of Medicine on April 2012 by Danielle Rudes, Faye Taxman, Shannon Portillo, Amy Murphy, Anne Rhodes, Maxine Stitzer, Peter Luongo, Peter Friedmann

Researchers have long recommended expanding treatment options for those with a drug abuse history, leading to the founding and proliferation of drug courts and other treatment diversion programs.  The effectiveness of such programs has varied across the horizon as some jurisdictions continue to rely on traditional criminal justice sanction systems, while others endorse newer evidence-based practices.

One such approach that has shown to be a promising method for initiating drug abstinence is Contingency Management (CM).  CM is an incentive-based intervention specifically designed to alter individual behavior(s) by systematically dispensing contingent rewards.   CM’s underlying principles suggests that a person is more likely to continue certain behaviors if they receive positive reinforcement for doing so. Likewise, behaviors that typically would receive punishment are discontinued as the individual replaces the pleasure from receiving rewards. CM rewards positive choices/behaviors as a tool to shape behavior. Systematic reviews confirm the general overall positive findings from using CM in drug treatment settings.