What does it take to motivate somebody to stay sober or try to get sober in the first place? One program in California thinks that they can sway some people with substance use disorder to remain sober – by promising them money. And while they’re slowly accumulating a balance (they have to withdraw it all at once), they are required to go to 12-step meetings and sometimes treatment.

According to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit agency that runs the “contingency management” program, it works, helping people get clean and sober.

Rewarding People for Going to Treatment?

It may seem counterintuitive to hand over cash to people who want to get high. After all, many of them want the money so they can score some drugs. In addition, people who are in later stages of addiction are often desperate for cash. Making participants wait to collect the money, however, can help them accumulate more time in sobriety.

According to the California Health Benefits Review Program, the treatment is quite effective for people whose drug of choice is methamphetamine or cocaine. It helps them stay sober, and they get a few hundred dollars at the end of the program.

So far, research shows that the programs are helpful but not solutions. Many of the participants end up taking the program seriously and attempt to stay sober once they’ve finished treatment. But, eventually, they get sucked back into active addiction in many cases. The relapse rate after six months is high.

Relapse is a part of many peoples’ recovery journey. Perhaps the program can plant a few seeds for a person so that they know what to do when they’re ready to get sober again.

Recovery is an Ongoing Process

In the study involving money, it’s unclear what kind of recovery maintenance activities the participants were interested in. Short-term treatment programs and longer-term help, such as daily 12-step meetings, can help people stay clean in the long term.

Sober housing and other aftercare programs can also help people with substance use disorder stay focused on recovery. Building a solid network in recovery can help people with substance use disorder stay sober long term.