New Report: Reward with Prizes. Cut Alcohol and Tobacco Use

New Report: Reward with Prizes. Cut Alcohol and Tobacco Use

It would seem that offering prizes- - from simple shampoo to DVD players -- can be an effective, low-cost treatment for alcohol abuse, the nation's third leading preventable cause of death, suggests a new report.

An article in Science Daily noted that researchers at Washington State University have shown that offering prizes -- from simple shampoo to DVD players -- can be an effective, low-cost treatment for alcohol abuse, the nation's third leading preventable cause of death.

A surprise benefit of the treatment was that it decreased study participants' tobacco and drug use.

Findings from the study, which appears in the current American Journal of Psychiatry, could expand treatment options for an estimated 15 million U.S. adults who abuse alcohol.

The study followed 79 outpatients at a community mental health center in the Seattle area. About half received the 12-week rewards intervention, which offered small prizes for addiction treatment attendance and negative urine test results for alcohol use. The other half were assigned to a control group and were rewarded regardless of test results and treatment attendance.

Results showed that those in the reward group were three times less likely to test positive for alcohol use than control participants. The decrease in alcohol use persisted throughout the study's three-month follow-up period.

In addition, smokers in the intervention group were five times less likely to test positive for tobacco use than control participants. And cocaine use decreased by three times.

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