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Housing Status, Psychiatric Symptoms, and Substance Abuse Outcomes Among Sober Living House Residents Over 18 Months

Polcin, Douglas L. EdD; Korcha, Rachael MA

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: September 2017 - Volume 16 - Issue 3 - p 138–150
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000105
Original Articles

Studies show individuals entering sober living recovery houses (SLHs) make significant, sustained improvement on measures of substance abuse problems, employment, and arrests. The current study assessed changes in housing status among SLH residents over 18 months and the relative influences of housing status and psychiatric distress on substance abuse outcomes. Two hundred forty-one men and 58 women, all age 18 and older, were interviewed within their first week of entering 20 SLHs and again at 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up. Between entry into the SLHs and 18-month follow-up homelessness declined from 16% to 4%, marginal housing declined from 66% to 46%, and stable housing increased from 13% to 27%. Psychiatric severity was generally mild to moderate in severity, but nevertheless showed improvement over the 18-month study period. Multivariate models showed worse substance abuse outcomes for residents with higher psychiatric distress and unstable housing. Relative to persons with stable housing, those who were homeless or marginally housed had worse outcomes and those in SLHs had better outcomes. Overall, we conclude that individuals entering SLHs show improvement in housing status and psychiatric distress, both of which are associated with better substance abuse outcomes.

Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6475 Christie Avenue, Suite 400, Emeryville, CA

Presented as a poster at the 78th Annual College on Problems of Drug Dependence: Polcin, D.L., Korcha, R., Mericle, A.A, Gupta, S., Witbrodt, J. (2016). Longitudinal Study of Housing, Psychiatric Distress, and Substance Abuse Problems among Sober Living House Residents. Poster presentation at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence 78th Annual Meeting, La Quinta, CA: June 11 to 16, 2016.

Supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R03 DA035175). The opinions and the content are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Douglas L. Polcin, EdD, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6475 Christie Avenue, Suite 400, Emeryville, CA 94608-1010 (e-mail:

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