Oxford House

An Overview of the Oxford House Model

The disease of addiction causes a number of different, profound effects. Addicts experience the deterioration of physical health including the destruction of a number of bodily functions and organs, the decline of mental and emotional health, the damage or loss of important relationships, and a number of other effects that are the direct result of habitual substance abuse.

After beginning the recovery process, therapies and treatments begin to alleviate these many effects, allowing individuals to achieve sobriety. However, while an addiction treatment program is an ideal for becoming sober, remaining sober long-term is up to the strength of will and determination of the individual.

Addiction treatment programs teach a variety of tools and strategies that are meant to help individuals eliminate or minimize their potential for relapse. Research has indicated that the longer an individual spends in some form of treatment, the greater his or her chance or sustaining long-term sobriety will be.

Upon completing an addiction treatment program, many individuals will initiate their aftercare, which is designed to help them remain sober after treatment. Transitioning from treatment back to society by living for a period in a halfway house is frequently incorporated into individuals’ aftercare plans as a means of helping them reinforce their newfound sobriety while becoming accustomed to living as an independent, productive, functional adult in society.

What is the Oxford House Model?

In short, a halfway house is a group-living facility where individuals in recovery live for the period of time immediately following treatment. Oftentimes, halfway houses—also sometimes called sober living homes—are self-run and self-supporting, meaning that the individuals living there will maintain the home and financially sustain it by splitting utility bills between them.

The original Oxford House was a halfway home that was opened and founded in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1975 by Paul Molloy. Molloy was an alcoholism himself, having received treatment for the disease and moved into a halfway house thereafter. When the halfway house closed due to financial hardship, Molloy and other residents took over the building’s lease and reopened it as the Oxford House, named after the Oxford Group that served as the inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Molloy’s Oxford House Model served as the prototype for what has since been referred to as the Oxford House Model, a form of halfway house that is a democratic, self-sustaining approach to rehabilitation and sober living support. An Oxford House is run by residents who have been elected by a unanimous vote, serving for no more than six consecutive months at a time. Individuals who live in an Oxford House must abstain from alcohol and drugs and must not be disruptive to other residents.

For each House to remain financially independent, each individual living in an Oxford House must pay an Equal Expense Shared fee of up to $100 at a weekly business meeting where residents gather to pay the House bills and discuss any issues that they face as leaseholders. Though not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous or its derivative groups, residents of Oxford Houses are required to attend a certain number of meetings each week or month as the residents recognize that active participation in twelve step programs will help to ensure lasting sobriety. Any Oxford House resident who leaves the House on good terms is asked to become an associate member, which essentially means becoming a mentor for new residents moving into an Oxford House.

Oxford Houses vs. Other Halfway Houses

The goal of any type of sober living environment is to serve as an interim between a drug rehab and full reintegration into the community as a sober individual. In a standard halfway house, individuals will move into the facility and be required to pay rent while following the rules and curfews that were set by the individuals who manage the facility.

More often than not, sober living facilities are managed by treatment providers or by property owners, meaning that individuals must follow rules set by a third party. Additionally, most sober living facilities have a number of rules in addition to abstinence, such as having to leave the halfway house during weekdays in order to either attend or find work, strict rules concerning guests, and curfews.

However, a lack of regulation and high demand of transitional living has led to many “scam houses” run by dishonest individuals who promise a safe environment and recovery support, but merely want to extort the newly recovered by threatening eviction while continuously increasing rates.

In contrast, facilities that use the Oxford House model are run by the residents themselves. Rather than following rules set for them, residents and their electees abide by the base rules—abstinence, democracy, and sharing expenses—and decide whether to set any others.

Moreover, the cost of living in an Oxford House will be much less since they are self-run by residents who pay only what it costs to sustain the facility, which amounts to little more than the rent and utilities. Additionally, individuals living in an Oxford House have security and cannot be evicted unless they are disruptive, imbibe alcohol or drugs, and fail to pay their shares of expenses.

Benefits of Living in an Oxford House After Treatment

Oxford House facilities have proven to be one of the best transitional living opportunities available. A number of studies have found that Oxford Houses are very safe and have lower rates of addiction recidivism and relapse than many other communal living facilities.

Moreover, giving those in recovery more authority and decision-making power in an Oxford House has shown to help with learning responsibility and becoming more independent. With no length-of-stay restrictions and no professional treatment providers, individuals have much more say in how they maintain their sobriety.

Begin Your Recovery Journey — Call Drug Treatment Center Finder Today

There are many ways to sustain one’s sobriety. After completing a residential or inpatient treatment program, many individuals have found transitional living facilities to be an essential part of a successful reintegration into the community. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to learn more about the Oxford House model or other treatment opportunities, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Call today at 855-619-8070 to speak with one of our knowledgeable recovery strategists and begin your journey to sobriety, health, and fulfillment.

  1. I am familiar with Oxford house and have met with a couple people about the Oxford house. I have 6 years of good recovery from alcoholism and recently lost my son to a heroin overdose. His death has devestated me, my family and our community. I have the opportunity to buy a very large building and am wondering if I could do dorm style living under Oxford house rules. My family and I are trying to bring something good out of the tragedy. Please call 716 499 5070 or email me

Add a comment