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Providing Incentives for Good Behavior Helps Cut Drug Use Among Parolees

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A new study shows a program that provides a system of incentives for good behavior helps parolees reduce marijuana use. The system was not found to be successful among those who use stimulants or opiates, Medical News Today reports. The article notes that marijuana users comprise a large percentage of individuals arrested for drug use.

The program is based on a system called collaborative behavioral management. Every week for three months, officers, treatment counselors and parolees at six parole offices in five states worked with a behavioral contract that included three target behaviors. If the parolee met the behaviors, they were rewarded through a system of points that allowed them to receive gift cards or other incentives.

Lead researcher Peter D. Friedmann of Rhode Island Hospital said in a news release, “Since the majority of drug violation arrests in the U.S. are for marijuana, these findings have important implications for the management of a substantial proportion of parolees. The study shows that an intervention grounded in behavioral science is feasible and effective in real-world correctional settings.”

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, survey data indicate that over half of state and federal inmates used drugs during the month preceding the offense corresponding to their sentence, and nearly one-third of state prisoners and a quarter of federal prisoners used drugs at the time of the offense.

The study appears in the journal Addiction.

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