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Friday, July 26, 2013

Policy Statement The Role of Recovery Residences in Promoting Long-term Addiction Recovery

Addiction and the larger arena of alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse and related problems exact an enormous toll on individuals, families, organizations, local neighborhoods, and whole communities in the United States. Although a great number of advances have been made in AOD treatment, far too few individuals who could benefit from treatment receive it, and many who do receive treatment will resume AOD use following their discharge from it. New recovery support institutions are emerging beyond the arenas of traditional addiction treatment to support individuals hoping to initiate and to sustain long term recovery from addiction. One promising mechanism is the recovery residence.

Recovery residences (e.g., sober living houses, recovery homes, and Oxford HousesTM) are sober, safe, and healthy living environments that promote recovery from AOD use and associated problems. At a minimum, recovery residences offer peer-to-peer recovery support with some providing professionally delivered clinical services all aimed at promoting abstinence-based, long-term recovery. Recovery residences are sober living environments, meaning that residents are expected to abstain from alcohol and illegal drug use. Each credentialed recovery residence publishes policies on relapse sanctions and readmission criteria and other rules governing group living. Recovery residences may require abstinence from particular types of medications according to individual policy. Although the exact number is currently unknown, many thousands exist in the United States.

A small but growing body of research supports the effectiveness of recovery residences in sustaining abstinence and promoting gains in a variety of other domains, and the National Association of Recovery Residences has developed guidelines to define levels of care and standards to ensure the quality of care received. Yet, despite these advances, recovery residences face innumerable challenges. Critical questions regarding the operations and effects of recovery residence participation remain unanswered, and research scientists wishing to study recovery residences face considerable funding challenges given the prevailing funding emphasis on the neuroscience of addiction. Efforts to establish or relocate recovery residences face challenges with start-up funding and often face considerable neighborhood and political opposition. Also of importance, many health and human professionals are unaware of recovery residences and their benefits on long-term recovery outcomes.

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