Giving addicts $ for research participation

I don’t know what to think about this. The researchers found that giving subjects money for participating in research on cocaine addiction does not increase cocaine use in the days following the study. They gave the subjects between $150 and $300.

I’m kind of skeptical, but open to having my assumptions challenged if larger future repeat these outcomes.

A couple of subject traits seem important to me. For obvious reasons, the severity and pattern of their dependence might be important, and their income or access to money might be important. If having $150 to $300 is no big deal, then it seems a lot less likely to lead to increased use. The subjects of this study report an average 10 to 12 days of cocaine use per month, and average of $50 to $100 per day of use, and total monthly use of $600 to $1000. (Ranges are because of differences in subject groups.) This is less than what a typical cocaine addict reports at admission to residential treatment at Dawn Farm. Also, more than half were employed. These data points don’t suggest manipulation, but leave room for questions about response differences.

If these outcomes are supported in chronic, severe cocaine addicts, doesn’t this raise big questions about our understanding of addiction–that you can hand a cocaine addict $300 and that are not very likely to buy cocaine with it?

It’s worth noting that these researchers have an interest in finding that this kind of compensation does not adversely affect participants.