When treating substance use disorders (SUDs) there is a tremendous need for interventions that motivate individuals to change their behavior. Indeed, a waxing and waning commitment to and ambivalence about change is a common characteristic of SUDs. Contingency management (CM) is one effective approach to addressing this need. CM interventions are based in operant conditioning, which is an area of psychology that studies how environmental contingencies of reinforcement and punishment alter the probability of future behavior. Interestingly, there is extensive basic scientific research showing that operant conditioning is involved in important ways in the development of SUDs—that is, the mind-altering substances that people abuse stimulate the brain's basic reward centers thereby increasing the likelihood that people will want to take the substance again. In the ...

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