Toward cost-effective initial care for substance-abusing homeless
In a randomized controlled trial, behavioral day treatment, including contingency management (CM+), was compared to contingency management components alone (CM). All 206 cocaine-dependent homeless participants received a furnished apartment with food and work training/employment contingent on drug-negative urine tests. CM+ also received cognitive–behavioral therapy, therapeutic goal management, and other intervention components. Results revealed that CM+ treatment attendance and abstinence were not significantly different from CM during 24 weeks of treatment. After treatment and contingencies ended, however, CM+ showed more abstinence than CM, indicating a delayed effect of treatment from 6 to 18 months. CM+ had more consecutive weeks abstinent across 52 weeks, but not during active treatment. We conclude that CM alone may be viable as initial care for cocaine-dependent homeless persons. That CM+ yields more durable abstinence indicates that it may be appropriate as stepped-up care for clients not responding to CM (Clinical Trials.gov, no. NCT00368524).