Treating Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Illness

Individualizing Incentives to Maximize Recovery


Up to 46 percent of adults with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar and depressive disorders, experience an alcohol use disorder in their lifetime, contributing to high rates of homelessness, psychiatric hospitalizations, HIV infection, cigarette smoking, and drug use. These public health concerns call for health interventions that help people cut down or stop drinking alcohol.


In our previous studies we found that contingency management, an intervention in which small incentives are provided to people who demonstrate evidence of drug or alcohol dependence, is an effective intervention for adults with serious mental illnesses. However, in our last study we found that those who had more severe alcohol problems, as measured by a urine test, ethyl glucuronide, didn’t respond to the contingency management intervention. Therefore, the primary purpose of this project is to determine whether modifications to contingency management, including increasing the amount of rewards for abstinence or rewarding people for reducing their use, prior to requiring abstinence, are effective for people who are heavy drinkers and are also living with serious mental illnesses. In this project we will also investigate factors that predict positive outcomes and conduct a comprehensive economic evaluation.



Principal Investigator

Michael McDonell, Ph.D.



Sterling McPherson, Ph.D.

Naomi Chaytor, Ph.D.

John Roll, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor

Oladunni Oluwoye, Ph.D.

Liat Kriegel, Ph.D., MSW

Postdoctoral Researcher

Julianne Jett, Ph.D.

Seattle Research Coordinators

Morgan Kelly, M.S

Spokane Research Coordinators
Sara Parent, N.D.



University of Washington Team

Richard Ries, Ph.D. - Co-Investigator


Weill Cornell Medicine Team

Sean Murphy, Ph.D. - Co-Investigator

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Developing a Web Based Tool to Implement Contingency Management 

Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye is the recipient of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Diversity Supplement. The purpose of this supplement is to encourage the development and training of minority researchers in their field. The primary objective of Dr. Oluwoye's study is to develop a prototype of a comprehensive web-based contingency management tool that includes a materials and interactive training guide for clinicians and additional software to implement contingency management.



Oladunni Oluwoye, Ph.D.


Michael McDonell, Ph.D.

Washington State University

David Atkins, Ph.D.

University of Washington

Katharine Bradley, MD, MPH

Kaiser Permanente Washington

Health Research Institute

Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye


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Behavioral Health Innovations is a part of the Washington State University College of Medicine 

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