Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Behavioral Health and Recovery Studies

Behavioral Health and Recovery Studies examines a variety of issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, criminal justice systems, unstable housing, and HIV. The center primarily focuses on community-based fieldwork and conceptualizes recovery from a broad perspective that includes assessment of professional treatment, peer-based services, neighborhood effects, and social environment influences.

Program Director(s)

Douglas Polcin


Evidence Based Sober Living Houses: A Multi-level Analysis

The essential characteristics of sober living houses (SLHs) include provision of an alcohol and drug free living environment and social support for abstinence. Our ongoing and previous studies have shown that individuals residing in SLHs experience a variety of benefits, including improvements in health, psychiatric symptoms, employment, and legal problems. This new study will examine the relative influences of neighborhood characteristics, social environment within the houses, and physical characteristics of houses on 12-month outcomes.

Here's How We're Making a Difference

Researching the Interaction of Mental Health and Social Support on Drug Relapse in Recovery Homes

Sober living houses (SLHs) offer an alcohol- and drug-free living environment to people with substance use disorders, and are becoming increasingly important as the addiction field continues to emphasize long-term services in communities that can facilitate sustained recovery over time.

A study led by PHI's Alcohol Research Group, “An Evaluation of Sober Living Houses,” found that people who entered SLHs who were homeless or in unstable living arrangements improved their housing status over 18 months, and also showed improvement in psychiatric health. Housing status and psychiatric problems each independently predicted substance abuse outcomes. Social support also predicted better substance abuse outcomes for the entire sample—but it had the strongest, most consistent impact on persons with lower levels of psychiatric symptoms.