The Impact of AA on Non-Professional Substance Abuse Recovery Programs and Sober Living Houses

  • Douglas L. Polcin
  • Thomasina Borkman
Part of the Recent Developments in Alcoholism book series (RDIA, volume 18)


In addition to being a widely used and effective approach for alcohol problems, AA has been central to the development of several types of non-professional recovery programs. Known as “social model recovery,” these programs were staffed by individuals in recovery and they encouraged program participants to become involved in AA as a way to address their drinking problems. In addition, they relied on the traditions, beliefs, and recovery practices of AA as a guide for managing and operating programs (e.g., democratic group processes, shared and rotated leadership, and experiential knowledge). This chapter reviews the philosophy, history, and recent changes in several types of these programs, along with a depiction of AA’s influence on them. Programs examined include neighborhood recovery centers, residential social model recovery programs, and two types of sober living houses: California Sober Living Houses and Oxford Houses. Recent outcome evaluations on both types of sober living houses are presented.


Residential Treatment Social Model Recovery Program Residential Treatment Program Outpatient Treatment Program 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alcohol Research GroupPublic Health InstituteEmeryvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology & AnthropologyGeorge Mason UniversityUSA

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