Frequently Asked Questions:
Q) What is an Oxford House?
A) Oxford House is a self-run, self-supported recovery house program for individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Oxford Houses assure an alcohol and drug-free living environment. The first Oxford House was started in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1975.
Q) What is the philosophy behind Oxford House?
A) The philosophy behind Oxford House is three-fold:  self-help is the bedrock of recovery,  disciplined democracy is key to living together, and  self-support builds efficacy in sobriety comfortable enough to avoid relapse.
Q) How long can anyone live in an Oxford House?
A) A recovering individual can live in an Oxford House for as long as he or she does not drink alcohol, does not use drugs, and pays an equal share of the house expenses. the average stay is a little over a year, but many residents stay three, four, or more years. There is no pressure on anyone in good standing to leave.
Q) Who manages an Oxford House?
A) Oxford Houses are democratically self-run by the residents who elect officers to serve for terms of six months. In this respect, they are similar to a college fraternity or sorority. However, if a majority of residents believe that any member has relapsed into using alcohol or drugs, that person is immediately expelled. There are no resident counselors in an Oxford House.
Q) Why is Oxford House self-run?
A) Oxford Houses are self-run because (1) this permits individuals in recovery to learn responsibility, and (2) the cost associated with self-run housing permits extensive replication of houses. Each House is fully responsible for its own expenses and debts which will not and cannot be assumed by the National Organization of Oxford Houses.
Q) How can one get into an Oxford House?
A) Any recovering alcoholic or drug addict can apply to get into any Oxford House by filling out an application and being interviewed by the existing members of the House. The application is then considered by the membership of the House and if there is a vacancy and if 80% of the members approve, the applicant is accepted and moves in.
Q) How much sobriety or clean time is needed before an individual can be accepted into an Oxford House?
A) There is no time limit. Generally an individual comes into an Oxford House following a 28-day rehabilitation program or at least 10-day detoxification program.
Q) Can both men and women live in the same Oxford House?
A) No. Experience has shown that Oxford Houses work for both men and women, but not in the same house.
Q) How did Oxford House get started?
A) In 1975, a tight budget in Montgomery County, Maryland led to a decision to close one of the four county-run halfway houses. The thirteen men living in the halfway house rented the building and decided to run it themselves. They immediately decided to change the rule that limited a stay to six months because they had witnessed that when a person was required to leave because the time was up they almost always relapsed within thirty days of leaving. That was an important change because recovering individuals take different lengths of time to become comfortable enough in sobriety to avoid relapse.
Q) What is the success rate for Oxford House residents?
A) The “success rate” [staying clean and sober and functioning well] is very high. The National Institute of Drug Abuse [NIDA] and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse [NIAAA] have both funded considerable research on Oxford House’s rate of success. More than 125 peer reviewed academic journal articles and four books have been published. A list of those publications is at the Oxford House website under “About Us/ Resources.”
Jeffrey Roth, MD, an addiction psychiatrist in Chicago, recently pointed out:
While research on AA has been limited by the role of anonymity in recovery, the willingness of the Oxford Houses to open their doors to academic research gives us an opportunity to see recovery from addiction in action.
In one study [NIDA Grant # 13231] that followed 897 residents in 219 Oxford Houses across the country for 27 months, the DePaul University research found that only 13% relapsed. [A peer-reviewed published report of that study in Addictive Behaviors 32 (2007) can be downloaded at the website under “Publications/Evaluations/DePaul].” In another study (NIAAA grant AA12218) a 150 individuals getting out of primary treatment were divided into two groups of 75 each with one group going to Oxford Houses and the other group going to normal living situations were followed for two years after treatment found that the Oxford House group did substantially better in staying clean and sober – 66% v. 33%. [American Journal of Public Health, Oct 2006; Vol. 96, pp1727–1729]
Q) How do I contact Oxford House, Inc. for more information?
Toll Free: 800-689-6411
Oxford House World Services
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 300
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910