Effectiveness of a peer-support community in addiction recovery: participation as intervention

Occup Ther Int. 2008;15(4):205-20. doi: 10.1002/oti.257.


The main purpose of the study was to determine whether a peer-support community programme would reduce relapse rates among clients recovering from substance addictions and homelessness and result in increased perceived community affiliation, supportive behaviours, self-determination and quality of life. Mixed methods were utilized including semi-structured interviews, participant observation and a pretest/post-test to evaluate changes on the quality of life rating, the Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Survey, and the Volitional Questionnaire. Data from the prior year's permanent supportive housing programme were used for comparison of relapse rates. Significant reduction of risk of relapse was found in clients who participated in the programme. Significant differences were found on three subscales of the Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Survey. Improvement that did not reach statistical significance was seen on the quality of life rating. Qualitative evidence supported improvements in perceived community affiliation and supportive behaviours.Evidence suggests that a peer-supported community programme focused on self-determination can have a significant positive impact on recovery from substance addictions and homelessness. Limitations include a small sample size and lack of a randomized control group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Support*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult