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Finding a living environment that supports recovery is a major challenge for many clients attending outpatient treatment. Yet it is important because family, friends, and roommates who encourage substance use or discourage recovery can undermine the progress made in treatment. Destructive living environments are most problematic for clients who have limited incomes and reside in urban areas where housing markets are tight. Individuals who are homeless face constant threats to their sobriety and often lack the stability necessary to attend treatment consistently. Options Recovery Services is an outpatient program in Berkeley, California that uses sober living houses (SLHs) to provide an alcohol- and drug-free living environment to clients while they attend the outpatient program. This article describes the structure and processes of the houses along with six month outcome data on 46 residents. Improvements were seen in the number of months using substances, maximum number of days of substance use per month, arrests, and employment. Seventy six percent of the residents remained in the house at least five months and 39% reported being employed at some point during the past 30 days. Outpatient programs should consider establishing SLHs for clients who lack a living environment supportive of sobriety.
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services