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Maximizing Social Model Principles in Residential Recovery Settings

Maximizing Social Model Principles in Residential Recovery Settings


Douglas L. Polcin, Ed.D.1, Amy Mericle, Ph.D.1, Jason Howell, MBA, PRS2, Dave Sheridan3, and Jeff Christensen, B.S.3


Douglas L. Polcin:


1Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6475 Christie Avenue, Suite 400, Emeryville,

CA 94608-1010, Phone (510) 597-3440 extension 277, Fax (510) 985-6459

2National Alliance of Recovery Residences

3Sober Living Network



Peer support is integral to a variety of approaches to alcohol and drug problems. However, there is

limited information about the best ways to facilitate it. The “social model” approach developed in

California offers useful suggestions for facilitating peer support in residential recovery settings.

Key principles include using 12-step or other mutual help group strategies to create and facilitate a

recovery environment, involving program participants in decision making and facility governance,

using personal recovery experience as a way to help others, and emphasizing recovery as an

interaction between the individual and their environment. Although limited in number, studies

have shown favorable outcomes for social model programs. Knowledge about social model

recovery and how to use it to facilitate peer support in residential recovery homes varies among

providers. This paper presents specific, practical suggestions for enhancing social model principles

in ways that facilitate peer support in a range of recovery residences.


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