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This study compared the social climate of peer-run homes for recovering substance abusers called Oxford House (OH) to that of a staffed residential therapeutic community (TC). Residents of OHs (N = 70) and the TC (N = 62) completed the Community Oriented Programs Environment Scales. OHs structurally differ on two primary dimensions from TCs in that they tend to be smaller and are self-run rather than professionally run. Findings indicated significantly higher Involvement, Support, Practical Orientation, Spontaneity, Autonomy, Order and Organization, and Program Clarity scores among the OH compared to TC residents. Additional analyses found the OH condition was higher Support, Personal Problem Orientation, and Order and Organization scores among women compared to men residents. These results suggested that these smaller OH self-run environments created a more involving and supportive social milieu than a larger staff-run TC. These findings are interpreted within Moos' (2007) four theoretical ingredients (i.e., social control, social learning, behavioral economics, and stress and coping), which help account for effective substance abuse treatment environments.
This study examined the sustainability rates of 214 self-run substance abuse recovery homes called Oxford Houses (OHs) over a six-year period. We list five factors needed to sustain an OH: affordable housing, residents following OH principles, resident income, institutional support, and community support. Results indicated a high sustainability rate (86.9%) in which 186 OHs remained open and 28 OHs closed. Reasons for houses closing (N = 14) included lack of affordable housing, which we classified as an external factor. Houses that closed because of internal factors (N = 13) included residents who were unable to adhere to OH rules, and insufficient income of residents. No house-level differences for income, sense of community, average lengths of stay, house age, or neighborhood characteristics were found between the houses that closed versus houses that remained open. Because the OH system relies on residents to sustain individual houses located in ordinary residential neighborhoods, these findings suggest that OH sustainability depends on locale, primarily access to affordable housing and adequate job opportunities for residents.