Residential rehabilitation for alcohol and other drug dependence aims to provide a structured environment for people to break addiction and reintegrate into society within a community rather than in outpatient or other settings. This Evidence Snapshot aimed to identify the community impacts of residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation services. Ten studies were reviewed, seven of which were from the US and two from Australia.

A consistent theme across five studies examining community perceptions and impact was that initial concerns around the potential impacts of drug treatment facilities, including residential rehabilitation, were largely unfounded or did not materialise in the long term. Studies also reported a number of positive impacts on communities as reflected by participation in events at community rehabilitation centres, residents making contributions to communities through volunteering, and longer-term employment and associated economic impacts stemming from successful reintegration into the community following rehabilitation.

Three studies examining impacts on property values reported mixed findings. One study reported negative impacts, however two studies demonstrated either no effect or higher sales in houses close to sober-living houses over time. A large study examining crime rates showed that drug treatment centres had similar crime rates to areas around liquor stores and lower rates than near corner and convenience stores. A US-based study of economic impacts reported positive impacts.

The review findings raise a number of important considerations. Initial community concerns are not based on lived experience of residential rehabilitation in their area and appear to diminish once the centres are established. A number of gaps in the evidence – including a dearth of studies; lack of exploration of community knowledge; and potential under-measurement of complex outcomes such as community attitudes and sentiment – should be borne in mind when interpreting review findings.


Bragge P, Delafosse V, Cong-Lem, N, Tsering D and Nielsen S. Community impacts of residential alcohol and drug treatment facilities: an Evidence Snapshot rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute ( for the NSW Ministry of Health, 2023.

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