Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #237a
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

The Therapeutic Utility of Employment in Treating Drug Addiction

Monday, May 30, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: BPN; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Kenneth Silverman, Ph.D.
Chair: Paul L. Soto (Texas Tech University)
KENNETH SILVERMAN (Johns Hopkins University)
Kenneth Silverman is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research has focused on developing operant treatments to address the interrelated problems of poverty and drug addiction. His primary research has focused on the development and evaluation of abstinence reinforcement interventions for the treatment of heroin and cocaine addiction in low-income, inner city adults; the development of the therapeutic workplace intervention and the use of employment-based reinforcement in the long-term maintenance of drug abstinence and adherence to addiction treatment medications; and the development of computer-based training to establish critical academic and job skills that chronically unemployed adults need to gain and maintain employment and escape poverty.

Research on a model Therapeutic Workplace has allowed for the rigorous evaluation of the use of employment in the treatment of drug addiction. Under the Therapeutic Workplace, adults with histories of drug addiction are hired and paid to work. To promote drug abstinence or adherence to addiction medications, participants are required to provide drug-free urine samples or take prescribed addiction medications, respectively, to gain access to the workplace and/or to maintain their maximum rate of pay. Research has shown that this intervention is effective in promoting and maintaining abstinence from heroin, cocaine and alcohol and in promoting adherence to naltrexone in heroin-dependent adults. This presentation will review research on the Therapeutic Workplace and summarize major lessons that have been learned in conducting this research. In addition, the presentation will describe three models that could be used to maintain employment-based reinforcement in the treatment of drug addiction: A Social Business model, a Cooperative Employer model, and a Wage Supplement model. Overall, this program of research suggests that employment could be useful as a means of arranging and maintaining therapeutic reinforcement contingencies in the treatment of drug addiction.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in the application of operant conditioning to the long-term treatment of drug addiction.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe the features and key parameters of abstinence reinforcement interventions used in the treatment of drug addiction; (2) describe the features the therapeutic workplace intervention and employment-based reinforcement; (3) describe the effects of employment-based reinforcement in promoting abstinence from heroin and cocaine and adherence to addiction medication.



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