Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Julia Costich

Committee Member

Terry Bunn

Committee Member

John Lyons


Substance use disorder (SUD) has been a prevalent issue in both the clinical and public health sectors for some time. Substance use disorder can be defined as a disease that affects an individual’s brain and behavior, causing them to develop an inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs and substances (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Substances include but are not limited to alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and other controlled substances (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Substance misuse is a large topic of focus in public health because it not only deteriorates the quality of health in individuals and society, but also comes with large financial burdens, and also affects the educational and built social systems in the United States (Mclellan, 2017). In 2019, a study found that drug overdose deaths more than tripled in 2 decades at an alarming number of 70,000 deaths in one year (Peterson, Li, Xu, Mikosz, & Luo, 2021). This statistic in itself should be alarming. However, the burden of substance use disorder can be further exemplified in the burden it has had on the economy in the country as well. Substance use disorder has been estimated to cost a total of $420 billion annually and an additional $120 billion in associated healthcare and medical care costs (Mclellan, 2017).

The size and burden of this disease is alarming and very evident, and while there has been much time and effort dedicated towards creating effective and lasting treatment for substance use disorder, work is still needed in this area. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health, principles of effective treatment include addressing all of the patients’ needs and not just the drug use, including an aspect of counseling or behavior therapy, addressing the possibility of other mental disorders, and creating a safe and welcoming space that fosters effective treatment (National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2019). In this same report, a list of successful methods in treating substance use disorder was also provided, and it included: behavioral counseling, medication, medical devices and applications to treat withdrawal symptoms, and evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues (NIDA, 2019). However, health care professionals and providers of substance misuse treatment in the United States are recognizing the limitations of acute and inpatient care models that are currently available to treat the disorder (Polcin, 2015). Long term services to sustain recovery over time are necessary. Residential recovery homes, also known as sober living houses, are substance free living environments that provide long-term support for individuals with addiction and substance use disorders (Polcin, 2015). Individuals suffering from this disease generally lack environments that support sustained recovery by providing a substance free environment.

The purpose of this analysis was to gather information on the types of data that are currently collected in recovery housing. Knowing this information is vital as information on the demographics of residents, house and bed availability, populations served, and the number of individuals receiving long-term care for substance use disorders in recovery residents can guide funding for the recovery ecosystem. More funding for recovery means more accessibility and addressing this disorder on a larger scale.

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