New Incentive Program Provides Gift Cards to Help Others Stay Sober

Under a new pilot program in California called the “Recovery Incentives Program,” those who struggle with stimulant addiction will receive a financial incentive in the form of a gift card to encourage them to stay sober. 

This program will be piloted in 24 counties in California, including San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. A similar program has been successful through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for over a decade. 

This system of providing financial incentives is called a “contingency management” that will be reimbursed through CalAIM, a program part of MediCal. 

As part of the pilot program, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital is providing $10 gift cards to Walmart or other retailers for those who test negative once or twice a week. The amount of money will increase gradually to $26.50 for each test, and can earn a total in the program of $599. For those who test negative, they do not receive any money.

Tammy Ramsey, program manager for the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System, expressed her hopes for the success of the program.

“We’re all excited to try it and see if it does help retain people in treatment for longer periods of time so they are more successful,” said Tammy Ramsey. (CALMATTERS)

According to a study by UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, almost one-third of those surveyed used “amphetamines three or more times a week, compared to just 11% who used opioids with the same frequency.” (CALMATTERS)

For the unhoused community, stimulant usage is common, with many concerned about being attacked at night. 

The medical director of the Opiate Treatment Outpatient Program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Brad Shapiro, said he would like the program to eventually include everyone on MediCal.

With the program’s success, there has also been some failure, with some individuals relapsing and failing to stay sober. Nevertheless, there is hope that this program can provide the incentive and motivation to help many in need.


Mikayla Schwartz

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