Proposal Would Pay Meth Addicts To Stay Sober

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February 26, 2020 - 1:50 pm
Methamphetamine also known as Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine also known as Crystal Meth (Photo credit: Daniel Kaesler)

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People who abuse methamphetamine would be paid to remain sober under a novel proposal to slow the widening crisis. 

State Sen. Scott Wiener, of San Francisco, introduced bill SB888 on Wednesday. He said half of the psychiatric emergency room visits at San Francisco General Hospital are meth related, and that costs a lot of money. 

“Meth is creating massive costs for our healthcare system and for MediCal,” said Wiener. “And so we have a very, very cheap way of avoiding these emergency room admissions by providing people with the financial incentive to stay sober. On balance, this will save MediCal an enormous amount of money.”

Wiener said the financial incentives will be something like gift cards. He added that the Veterans’ Administration has successfully used this technique, which is called contingency management. 

In Wiener’s proposal, contingency management would be covered under MediCal. 

It is recognized as an effective treatment by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Currently, there are no FDA approved medications used to treat meth addiction. 

The SF AIDS Foundation, however, has had success with a program that provides gift certificates to addicts as incentive. 

Wiener’s legislation moves to clarify previous laws, which prohibit treatment programs from providing kickbacks to clients. SB888 notes that contingency management is not considered an illegal kickback.