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Clinic Offers Incentives, Counseling To Teens Struggling With Substance Abuse

Spectrum Youth and Family Services
Spectrum Youth and Family Services office on Elmwood Avenue in Burlinton's Old North End.

Dartmouth College Medical School has teamed up with Burlington’s Spectrum Youth and Family Services to offer a new outpatient treatment program for teens and their families struggling with substance abuse.

The Teen Intervention Program for Substance Use, or TIPS, combines weekly counseling and motivational incentives for staying abstinent.

Dr. Alan Budney says that combining counseling with monetary incentives has proven effective at curbing sustenance use.

Budney says this is the first time the program will be tested in a public clinic, outside of a research facility. He says the counseling component is not that different from other programs, but the monetary rewards is an innovative idea.

"You earn more and more money onto your credit/debit card each time that you show you are abstinent from drugs and alcohol during the treatment program," said Budney. "And then you can spend it on most anything you want."

Budney says that he's seen these types of incentive programs increase abstinence from drugs and alcohol for at least short periods of time. He says the project is working to improve the incentives even further.

"The therapists try to encourage you to spend it on things that are pro-social or positive, said Budney. "But pretty much it's just a reward for doing well and working hard and staying away from drugs and alcohol."

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