Opinion | Paying people to stay off drugs works. So let's keep doing it. – The Washington Post
A welcome addition to the widespread problem of treating addiction is the concept of using a paid incentive to encourage abstention from drug use as revealed in Emefa Addo Agawu’s April 3 Opinions Essay, “She was paid to stay off drugs. Here’s why this approach could help many others.” The primary tool in that prevention program is frequent drug testing to verify the addict’s cessation of drug use.
This new strategy called “contingency management” is similar to several other successful drug prevention programs that use drug testing to confirm qualification for receiving valued incentives, such as continued employment or continued participation in a favored activity, such as school sports. It’s also used in drug courts to qualify for official expungement of a permanent record of drug-related illegal activities. Although often opposed under the influence of lucrative addictive-substance industries, drug testing has been approved by the courts and widely used for decades. The technology has improved to where a simple inexpensive single oral swab drug test can detect up to a dozen different drugs, from tobacco to opioids including fentanyl, within about 10 minutes.
Thus, the direct cash payment incentive revealed in this valuable article is a welcome addition to the nation’s drug prevention arsenal to help reverse the current tragic soaring rates of drug addiction, incapacitation and overdose deaths that are a blight on society today. As the essay stated, “With so many people in the United States battling addiction, why is a tested, effective treatment still barely used?”
DeForest Rathbone, Leonardtown, Md.
The writer is a drug-use prevention activist.