On April 1st, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the Biden-Harris Administration’s drug policy priorities (PDF) for year one. President Biden made it clear that addressing the overdose and addiction crisis would be a priority for his administration. The seven priorities announced by ONDCP cement this commitment and bring into focus some key developments that have been researched and promoted as efficacious treatment for opioid/substance use disorder by the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH).
Priority one is an expansion of access to evidence-based treatment, which includes identifying and addressing “policy barriers related to contingency management interventions (motivational incentives) for stimulant use disorder” as well as exploring “reimbursement for motivational incentives and digital treatment for addiction, especially stimulant use disorder.” As noted in a recent article by VCBH, CM, an evidence-based therapy rooted in behavioral economics, provides incentives or rewards for a desired behavior and has been shown to be effective for a broad range of substance use disorders and associated problems. Perhaps most notably, CM, where participants receive vouchers exchangeable for retail items, has been shown to help those addicted to stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine abstain from drug use and remain in treatment starting with seminal clinical trials conducted by Vermont Center on Research and Behavior (VCBH) investigators Drs. Higgins, Heil, Sigmon, and others in the 1990s and systematically replicated nationally and internationally over nearly 30 years.
ONDCP’s statement on drug policies for year one notes, “American researchers, health care systems, and payers need to develop, scale up, and support a broader array of evidence-based treatment and recovery supports, including services such as housing. A lack of adequate support from leadership and for reimbursement can dissuade providers from entering an area of practice.”
We are excited and encouraged to see the Biden Administration including and addressing the barriers to implementing contingency management interventions to address opioid and substance use disorder.