Scott Schrage, February 22, 2022
Younger age, financial security linked to shorter stays in sober living homes
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People in recovery from addictions to alcohol and drugs sometimes take up residence in sober living homes: substance-free facilities that offer affordable shelter and a structured lifestyle designed to promote that recovery.
Some preliminary research suggests that longer stays in sober living homes are associated with better outcomes, including sustained sobriety. But few studies have examined which demographic and contextual factors might be linked with those longer, potentially restorative stays, especially among women with histories of addiction and victimization.
To investigate those factors, Nebraska’s Katie Edwards and colleagues collected survey data from 45 women who stayed in a sober living home that serves those with histories of both substance use and trauma from domestic or sexual violence. The women completed the survey upon entering the sober living home, then did so again six and 12 months later.
That survey measured numerous factors: the length of stay, levels of post-traumatic stress and depression, financial worries, housing instability, recent victimization, and alcohol and drug use.
Nearly two-thirds of the women reported staying less than three months at the sober living home — well short of the six-month threshold that some studies indicate may reduce the odds of a substance-use relapse. Based on the surveys, only older age and greater financial worries were associated with the likelihood of staying more than three months.
The researchers called for future studies to include larger, more diverse samples that could lend personal insights into why women leave a sober living home. But the preliminary findings suggest that sober living homes should consider focusing on retaining younger women with fewer financial burdens.
Forthcoming research from the Nebraska team will highlight the strengths exhibited by women with histories of addiction and victimization. It will also evaluate the effectiveness of the sober living facility that housed the 45 surveyed women.