NJ Human Services to Create Incentive Program to Help Individuals with Stimulant Use Disorder

Plan Calls for Incentives for Meeting Target Behaviors;

Aimed Toward Those Who Struggle with Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamines

May 19, 2022

(TRENTON)Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the Department has awarded contracts to develop a new incentive program to help individuals receiving treatment for stimulant use disorder who struggle with substances such as cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines.

The program is based on the principles of contingency management, which is a behavioral approach that has shown to be effective for substance use disorders that do not respond to other therapies or medication.

Under the $2 million pilot program, five treatment providers were awarded the contracts to develop contingency management programs for stimulant use disorder. The programs will feature gift cards as an incentive for individuals who successfully engage in recovery-oriented, goal-based activities during 16 weeks of treatment.

The program will be funded with SAMHSA grant money.

Goals are designed to be recovery oriented, and may include being able to provide stimulant-free urine samples and attending treatment sessions.

“The use of motivational incentives is a powerful intervention shown to improve engagement, increase abstinence and enhance overall recovery in substance abuse treatment,” Commissioner Adelman said. “It provides immediate positive reinforcement, and studies have shown it can lead to improved patient retention and outcomes. Stimulant use is rising, and illicit stimulants have evolved to be cheaper and more potent. Illicit stimulant use results in damage to the cardiovascular system and causes lung and brain disease, stroke, and death. We need to be innovative in how we approach this public health concern – and save lives.”

The Office of National Drug Control Policy Director (ONDCP) recently released a plan to address the rise of methamphetamine, as overdose deaths related to its use nearly tripled in three years (2016-2019). 

Data for New Jersey indicates stimulant use has increased dramatically in recent years. From 2016 to 2019, cocaine hospital admissions increased from 11,070 to 15,691, crack cocaine admissions increased from 5,785 to 9,890, and methamphetamine admissions increased from 590 to 2,456.

“Individuals with substance use disorder may mix use of stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, with opioids that are laced with fentanyl, which places them at high risk of overdoses,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who leads the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that is overseeing the incentive program. “However, many who only take stimulants may not know that these drugs can also contain fentanyl, and that their use can result in fatal overdoses. Treating addiction to stimulants is critical but also challenging. Unlike opioids, there is no FDA-approved medication available for stimulant use disorders, so we face clinical challenges. However, there are behavioral strategies that work when it comes to helping individuals reduce or discontinue stimulant use. As noted in the ONDCP report, this includes contingency management, as we’re trying here with this pilot program.”

Program participants must be at least 18 years old, have a stimulant use disorder, and have an interest in participating in this pilot program.

The agencies awarded contracts are Maryville Addiction Treatment Center, Oaks Integrated Care, Integrity, Care Plus Bergen and John Brooks Recovery Center.

As part of the program, the five agencies must serve a certain number of clients per year and comply with program evaluations by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  

“We’re pleased to be able to develop another approach for those in need and to support recovery,” Commissioner Adelman said. “I continue to urge anyone needing help with substance use disorder of any kind to call 1-844-ReachNJ. Help is always available. Please don’t hesitate to call.”