Increasing employment of opioid dependent outpatients: An intensive behavioral intervention

Michael Kidorf, Johanna R. Hollander, Van L. King, Robert K. Brooner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The impact of a new, mandatory employment requirement in a community-based methadone treatment program was evaluated. All patients who had been in the methadone substitution program for at least 1 year but who were not currently employed (n = 36) were required to enhance their treatment with 20 h of employment (paid or volunteer). Patients with significant psychiatric or medical disabilities were excluded from the routine treatment requirement. Patients were informed by counseling staff that they had 2 months to secure employment. Those who did not accomplish the goal within that time period were transferred to more intensive weekly counseling (i.e. up to 8 h/week) for 10 weeks, with the enhanced counseling focusing primarily on resistance to the employment goal. Patients who remained resistant to the treatment plan were eventually started on a 21 day methadone taper until employment was verified. Seventy-five percent of the patients secured employment and maintained the position for at least 1 month. Positions were found in an average of 60 days. Most patients (78%) continued working throughout the 6-month follow-up. Those who failed to find work or maintain employment engaged in more illicit drug use. These results demonstrate that behavioral contingencies can motivate many methadone maintenance patients to obtain verified employment in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Contingency management
  • Employment
  • Methadone treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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