The Psychological Record

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 253–259 | Cite as

Monitoring Cocaine Use and Abstinence Among Cocaine Users for Contingency Management Interventions

  • August F. HoltynEmail author
  • Todd W. Knealing
  • Brantley P. Jarvis
  • Shrindhi Subramaniam
  • Kenneth Silverman
Original Article


During contingency management interventions, reinforcement of cocaine abstinence is arranged by delivering an incentive when a urine sample tests cocaine-negative. The use of qualitative versus quantitative urinalysis testing may have important implications for effects on cocaine abstinence. Qualitative testing (i.e., testing that solely identifies whether a particular substance is present or absent) may not detect short-term cocaine abstinence because a single instance of cocaine use can result in cocaine-positive urine over many days. Quantitative testing (i.e., testing that identifies how much of a substance is present) may be more sensitive to short-term cocaine abstinence; however, the selection of a criterion for distinguishing new use versus carryover from previous use is an important consideration. The present study examined benzoylecgonine concentrations, the primary metabolite of cocaine, in urine samples collected three times per week for 30 weeks from 28 cocaine users who were exposed to a cocaine abstinence contingency. Of the positive urine samples (benzoylecgonine concentration >300 ng/ml), 29%, 21%, 14%, and 5% of the samples decreased in benzoylecgonine concentration by more than 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% per day, respectively. As the size of the decrease increased, the likelihood of that sample occurring during a period leading to a cocaine-negative urine sample (benzoylecgonine concentration ≤300 ng/ml) also increased. The number of days required to produce a cocaine-negative sample following a positive sample ranged from 1 to 10 days and was significantly correlated with the starting benzoylecgonine level (r = 0.43, p < 0.001). The present analyses may aid in the development of procedures that allow for the precise reinforcement of recent cocaine abstinence during contingency management interventions.


Benzoylecgonine Cocaine Contingency management Incentives 


Author Note

The preparation of this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01DA012564, R01DA013107, R01DA019497, R01 DA037314, and T32DA07209. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01DA012564, R01DA013107, R01DA019497, R01 DA037314, and T32DA07209.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Johns Hopkins Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • August F. Holtyn
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Todd W. Knealing
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brantley P. Jarvis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shrindhi Subramaniam
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenneth Silverman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins University, School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Center for Learning and Health, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBriar Cliff UniversitySioux CityUSA

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