Employment-based reinforcement of adherence to depot naltrexone in unemployed opioid-dependent adults: A randomized controlled trial

Jeffrey J. Everly, Anthony Defulio, Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Jeannie Marie S. Leoutsakos, Wendy D. Donlin, Will M. Aklin, Annie Umbricht, Michael Fingerhood, George E. Bigelow, Kenneth Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Aims Naltrexone can be used to treat opioid dependence, but patients refuse to take it. Extended-release depot formulations may improve adherence, but long-term adherence rates to depot naltrexone are not known. This study determined long-term rates of adherence to depot naltrexone and whether employment-based reinforcement can improve adherence. Design Participants who were inducted onto oral naltrexone were assigned randomly to contingency (n=18) or prescription (n=17) groups. Participants were offered six depot naltrexone injections and invited to work at the therapeutic workplace on week days for 26 weeks, where they earned stipends for participating in job skills training. Contingency participants were required to accept naltrexone injections to maintain workplace access and to maintain maximum pay. Prescription participants could work independently of whether they accepted injections. Setting The therapeutic workplace, a model employment-based intervention for drug addiction and unemployment. Participants Opioid-dependent unemployed adults. Measurements Depot naltrexone injections accepted and opiate-negative urine samples. Findings Contingency participants accepted significantly more naltrexone injections than prescription participants (81% versus 42%), and were more likely to accept all injections (66% versus 35%). At monthly assessments (with missing urine samples imputed as positive), the groups provided similar percentages of samples negative for opiates (74% versus 62%) and for cocaine (56% versus 54%). Opiate-positive samples were more likely when samples were also positive for cocaine. Conclusions Employment-based reinforcement can maintain adherence to depot naltrexone. Future research should determine whether persistent cocaine use compromises naltrexone's effect on opiate use. Workplaces may be useful for promoting sustained adherence to depot naltrexone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1318
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Contingency management
  • Depot naltrexone
  • Drug addiction
  • Employment
  • Employment-based reinforcement
  • Heroin
  • Naltrexone
  • Reinforcement
  • Substance abuse
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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