Sober living house characteristics: A multilevel analyses of factors associated with improved outcomes

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Mar;98:28-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 15.


Safe and stable housing is integral to addiction recovery. Across numerous studies, recovery housing has been found to be associated with improvements in a variety of domains. Although procedures for operating some types of recovery housing have been manualized and national standards established, there are few empirical findings identifying which recovery residence characteristics may lead to improved outcomes. Using data from 330 newly admitted residents recruited from 49 sober living houses in California and re-contacted for 6- and 12-month follow-up interviews, this study examines the effects of organizational, operational, and programming characteristics on substance use, criminal justice, and employment outcomes. Results from multilevel analyses adjusting for resident demographics and length of stay indicate that organizational characteristics were associated with outcomes. Residents recruited from houses that were part of a larger organization or group of houses had increased odds of total abstinence (aOR = 3.98, p < 0.001) and drug abstinence (aOR = 3.19, p < 0.001). Residents recruited from houses that were affiliated with a treatment program had increased odds of employment (aOR = 2.92, p = 0.003). Operational characteristics such as where the house was located and whether the house required incoming residents to be sober for at least 30 days prior to entry were also related to improved outcomes, but additional work is needed to develop tools to assess and measure recovery housing characteristics and to better understand how these factors contribute to improved outcomes.

Keywords: Recovery housing; Recovery outcomes; Recovery residences; Sober living; Sober living houses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Halfway Houses* / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Residential Treatment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*