The term Oxford House may refer to any house operating under the "Oxford House Model", a community-based approach to addiction treatment, which provides an independent, supportive, and sober living environment. Today there are more than 1000 Oxford Houses in the United States and other countries. Each house is based on 3 primary rules:
- Do not use drugs or alcohol and do not be disruptive
- The House must be run democratically
- Pay your Equal Expense Shared (EES) or any fines
Equal Expense Shared (EES) is generally between 80 to 100 dollars a week and includes utilities. Generally 12-step meeting attendance is encouraged, and a certain number of meetings a week may be mandatory. Weekly business meetings are mandatory to discuss any issues that the house may be facing. It is at these meetings that checks are written for bills and residents are made aware of where they stand financially.
The first Oxford House was opened in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1975 by Paul Molloy. Molloy had been a Senate committee staff member between 1967 and 1972. He sought treatment for his alcoholism in a halfway house in 1975. Later that year, the halfway house would close due to financial difficulty, and Molloy and the other residents took over the lease. They chose the name Oxford House in recognition of Oxford Group, a religious organization that influenced the founders of AA.
The Oxford House Traditions
- TRADITION ONE: Oxford House has as its primary goal the provision of housing and rehabilitative support for the alcoholic or drug addict who wants to stop drinking or using and stay stopped.
- TRADITION TWO: All Oxford Houses are run on a democratic basis. Our officers are but trusted servants serving continuous periods of no longer than six months in any one office.
- TRADITION THREE: No member of an Oxford House is ever asked to leave without cause -- a dismissal vote by the membership because of drinking, drug use, or disruptive behavior.
- TRADITION FOUR: Oxford House is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, organizationally or financially, but Oxford House members realize that only active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous offers assurance of continued sobriety.
- TRADITION FIVE: Each Oxford House should be autonomous except in matters affecting other houses or Oxford House, Inc., as a whole.
- TRADITION SIX: Each Oxford House should be financially self-supporting although financially secure houses may, with approval or encouragement of Oxford House, Inc., provide new or financially needy houses a loan for a term not to exceed one year.
- TRADITION SEVEN: Oxford House should remain forever non-professional, although individual members may be encouraged to utilize outside professionals whenever such utilization is likely to enhance recovery from alcoholism.
- TRADITION EIGHT: Propagation of the Oxford House, Inc. concept should always be conceived as public education rather than promotion. Principles should always be placed before personalities.
- TRADITION NINE: Members who leave an Oxford House in good standing are encouraged to become associate members and offer friendship, support, and example to newer members.
Business meetings are the core of any Oxford House. All decisions are made based upon a democratic vote by all members of the house. A typical Oxford House has five positions with specific duties; however, each person still has only one vote. These positions are:
- President: Calls the meeting to order, directs the meeting, moderates discussion, and closes the meeting.
- Treasurer: Is responsible for keeping a financial accounting for all matters involving the house. This includes the house's current resources and any bills that must be paid. This position is almost always filled by someone with a significant amount of time in the house and a great deal of trust.
- Comptroller: Keeps an accurate account of the amount of money each person owes to the house each week. The "comptroller's report" is read openly each meeting.
- Chore Coordinator: Assigns weekly chores to each member of the house. Also reports on any fines that have been written that week, and discusses any general housekeeping matters that need to be attended to.
- Secretary: Keeps a record of the minutes of each meeting. Reads the minutes from the previous week at the beginning of each meeting.
DePaul University Research on Oxford House
DePaul University's Center for Community Research, led by Dr. Leonard A. Jason, has been involved in an extensive research study of Oxford House since 1988. It was found that the characteristics of people living in an Oxford House did not vary significantly from people in other substance abuse programs. The primary reason cited for moving into an Oxford House was the fellowship provided and the enforcement of a sober living environment. Approximately 3/4 of the residents involved in the study were involved with the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The average stay was about 175 days, and over a two year period 69% of those interviewed stayed in the house or left on good terms. The paper specifically stated "These findings suggest that the Oxford House model, in comparison to those who solely attend twelve-step programs, might be more effective in empowering residents in their ongoing abstinence in a way that enhances the perception of control in their lives."
- DePaul Grants on the site of DePaul University. Accessed 23 February 2007.
- Housing on the site of HopeNetworks. Accessed 23 February 2007.
- A collaborative action approach to researching substance abuse recovery on the site of LookSmart. Accessed 23 February 2007.
- OXFORD HOUSE: The Oxford House Traditions on the site of Oxford House. Accessed 14 February 2007.
- DePaul University Studies Oxford House, on the website of DePaul University. Accessed 23 February 2007.