What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?

Polcin, Douglas L.; Korcha, Rachael; Bond, Jason; Galloway, Gantt
December 2010
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs;Dec2010, Vol. 42 Issue 4, p425
Academic Journal
Lack of a stable, alcohol- and drug-free living environment can b e a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence. Destructive living environments can derail recovery for even highly motivated individuals. Sober living houses (SLHs) are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and other drugs. They are not licensed or funded by state or local governments and the residents themselves pay for costs. The philosophy of recovery emphasizes 12- Step group attendance and peer support. We studied 300 individuals entering two different types of SLHs over an 18-month period. This article summarizes our published findings documenting resident improvement on measures of alcohol and drug use, employment, arrests, and psychiatric symptoms. Involvement in 12-Step groups and characteristics of the social network were strong predictors of outcome, reaffirming the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery. This article adds to our previous reports by providing a discussion of implications for treatment and criminal justice systems. We also describe the next steps in our research on SLHs, which will include: (1) an attempt to improve outcomes for residents referred from the criminal justice system and (2) a depiction of how attitudes of stakeholder groups create a community context that can facilitate and hinder the legitimacy of SLHs as a recovery modality.


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