The ‘check effect’ reconsidered
Article first published online: 28 APR 2011
© 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction. No claim to original US government works
Volume 106, Issue 6, pages 1071–1077, June 2011
How to Cite
Rosen, M. I. (2011), The ‘check effect’ reconsidered. Addiction, 106: 1071–1077. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03409.x
- Issue published online: 12 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 28 APR 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 21 FEB 2011 11:55AM EST
- Submitted 26 July 2010; initial review completed 8 October 2010; final version accepted 8 February 2011
- Case management;
- disability benefits;
- dual diagnosis (psychiatric);
- financial support;
- mental disorders;
- representative payee;
- substance-related disorders
Aims The ‘check effect’ refers to the use of disability payments to purchase illegal drugs or alcohol. This paper describes subsequent research concerning three interrelated issues: the check effect, whether receipt of disability payments is associated with more overall substance use, and potential policy responses to misuse of disability payments for substances.
Methods Review and synthesis of published papers.
Results Increased substance use at the beginning of the month has been described in a variety of settings. The tendency to purchase substances at the beginning of the month is impacted by household wealth, the tendency to discount future rewards and cyclical economic activity. However, in naturalistic observational cohort studies, beneficiaries who receive disability payments had no greater substance use than those without disability payments. Potential policy responses to mis-spending of disability checks include financial counseling that discourages spending on drugs and the assignment of a representative payee to prevent misuse of benefits for substances. Assignment of a representative payee per se has not been associated with reduced substance use, but payeeship administered by agencies that integrate payee practice into treatment has been.
Conclusion Disability payments impact the timing of substance use, but receipt of disability payments is not associated with more overall substance use than unalleviated poverty. Money management-based clinical interventions, which may involve assignment of a representative payee, can minimize the purchase of substances with disability payments.