OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether substance abusers who received
large retroactive payments from Social Security disability programs were
more likely to terminate residential treatment precipitously than those who
did not receive payments. METHODS: The records of 43 patients of a
long-term residential treatment facility who received disability payments
at some point during their treatment stay were blindly examined. Twenty-six
of these patients received a large one-time retroactive payment
representing money that accumulated during processing of the claims. To
test the hypothesis that receipt of such a payment would lead to
precipitous discharge, a survival regression model was used. A control
group of nonrecipient patients was sampled at a comparable point in
treatment. RESULTS: Subjects in the recipient group were significantly more
likely to have unplanned discharges than those in the comparison group.
CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data suggest that large cash infusions can
be disruptive to the course of treatment for substance abusers.