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

August F. Holtyn, Todd W. Knealing, Brantley P. Jarvis, Shrindhi Subramaniam, Kenneth Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Benzoylecgonine
  • Cocaine
  • Contingency management
  • Incentives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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