stacks of books on shelves and floor
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Frequently asked questions as compiled by the NSC Co-Founder Shannon Smith-Bernardin. (Note: these FAQs are based on her experience and may not reflect all sobering center activities nor the opinions of all NSC members). Accessible at

Sobering Center Related Research (by publication date)

Smith-Bernardin, S.M. (2021) Changing the Care Environment for Acute Intoxication: Providing Intoxicated Adults with an Alternative to the Emergency Department and Jail. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 82(5), 678–684.

CHCF Report Part 1: Menninger, B. (2021) Sobering Centers Offer Clients Pathway to Stable Lives: A conversation with Shannon Smith-Bernardin, PhD, RN, a national leader in the field. California Health Care Foundation.

CHCF Report Part 2: Smith-Bernardin, S.M. (2021) Issue Brief – Sobering Centers Explained: An Innovative Solution for Care of Acute Intoxication. California Health Care Foundation.

CHCF Report Part 3: Smith-Bernardin, S.M. (2021) Full Report – Sobering Centers Explained: An Environmental Scan in California. California Health Care Foundation.

Marshall, B., McGlynn, E., & King, A. (2021). Sobering centers, emergency medical services, and emergency departments: A review of the literature. American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 40, 37-40.

Smith-Bernardin, S., Kennel, M., & Yeh, C. (2019). EMS Can Safely Transport Intoxicated Patients to a Sobering Center as an Alternate Destination. Ann Emerg Med 2019:X:107. doi:

Jarvis, S., Kincaid, L., Weltge, A., Lee, M., & Basinger, S. (2019). Public Intoxication: Sobering Centers as an Alternative to Incarceration, Houston, 2010-2017. Am J Public Health, 109: 597-599. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304907

Scheuter, C., Rochlin, D., Lee, C-M, Mlstein, A., & Kaplan, R. (2019) Cost Impact of sobering centers on national health care spending in the United States. TBM 2019-10(4):998-1003. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibz075

Fischer, M., Plorde, M., Meischke, H. & Husain, S. (2019). Lessons learned from a sobering center pilot for acute alcohol intoxication in South King County, Washington. Journal of Substance Use, 2: 123-127.

Warren, O. (2018). The Long Birth and Short Life of The Recovery Navigation Program. Rhode Island Medical Journal, 101(8): 16-18.

Smith-Bernardin, S., Carrico, A., Max, W. & Chapman, S. (2017). Utilization of a Sobering Center for Acute Alcohol Intoxication. Academic Emergency Medicine, published online May 2017. doi: 10.1111/acem.13219

Warren, O., Smith-Bernardin, S., Jamieson K, Zaller N, Liferidge A. (2016) Identification and Practice Patterns of Sobering Centers in the United States. J Healthc Poor Underserved, 27(3).

Warren, O. (2016). Intoxicated, Homeless, and In Need Of A Place to Land. Health Affairs, 35(11): 2138-2141. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0888

Brewster-Liddle, J., Parsons, W., & Moore, S. M. (2013). Setting up an alcohol treatment centre. Emergency Nurse: the Journal of the RCN Accident and Emergency Nursing Association, 21(6), 14–18. doi:10.7748/en2013.

Ross, D. W. (2013). Ross: Correction to measures of ethanol concentration. Ann Emerg Med, 61(4), 479. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2013.02.024

Ross, D. W., Schullek, J. R., & Homan, M. B. (2013). EMS Triage and Transport of Intoxicated Individuals to a Detoxification Facility Instead of an Emergency Department. Ann Emerg Med, 61(2), 175–184. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.09.004

Holzer, B et al. (2013). Patient Characteristics and Patterns of Intoxication: One time and repeated use of emergency ambulance services. J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 484-489.

Swain, A. H., Weaver, A., Gray, A. J., Bailey, M., & Palmer, S. G. (2013). Ambulance triage and treatment zones at major rugby events in Wellington, New Zealand: a sobering experience. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 126(1372), 12–24.

Smith-Bernardin, S., & Schneidermann, M. (2012). Safe sobering: San Francisco’s approach to chronic public inebriation. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23(3 Suppl), 265–270. doi:10.1353/hpu.2012.0144

Cornwall, A. H., Zaller, N., Warren, O., Williams, K., Karlsen-Ayala, N., & Zink, B. (2012). A pilot study of emergency medical technicians“ field assessment of intoxicated patients” need for ED care. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 30(7), 1224–1228. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2011.06.004

Flower, K., Post, A., Sussman, J., Tangherlini, N., Mendelson, J., & Pletcher, M. J. (2011). Validation of triage criteria for deciding which apparently inebriated persons require emergency department care. Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ, 28(7), 579–584. doi:10.1136/emj.2009.089763

Greene, J. (2007). Serial inebriate programs: what to do about homeless alcoholics in the emergency department. Ann Emerg Med, 49(6), 791–793. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2007.04.011

Dunford, J., Castillo, E. M., Chan, T. C., Vilke, G. M., Jenson, P., & Lindsay, S. P. (2006). Impact of the San Diego Serial Inebriate Program on use of emergency medical resources. Ann Emerg Med, 47(4), 328–336. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2005.11.017

Brady, M., Nicholls, R., Henderson, G., & Byrne, J. (2006). The role of a rural sobering-up centre in managing alcohol-related harm to Aboriginal people in South Australia. Drug & Alcohol Review, 25, 201-206.

Other Recommended

Kertesz, S., Baggett, T., O’Connell, J., Buck, D., & Kushel, M. (2016). Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless People – Reframing the Debate. N Engl J Med 375: 2115-2117. DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1608326.