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Please note that the information on this page is based on the EMCDDA Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Most statistical data relate to the year 2008 (or the last year available).


Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe
Responding to drug problems — an overview

Published: 10 November 2010

Social exclusion and reintegration

Social reintegration is recognised as an essential component of comprehensive drug strategies. It can be implemented at any stage of drug use and in different settings, and includes capacity building, improvement of social skills, measures to facilitate and promote employment and to obtain or improve housing. In practice, reintegration programmes may include vocational counselling, work placements and housing support. Prison-based interventions, which have an impact on relapse and re-offending, may link inmates to community-based housing and social support services in preparation for their release. In general, the outcomes of social reintegration measures often rely on efficient collaboration between health and social care institutions.

Although there is no direct causal relationship between the more problematic forms of drug use and social exclusion, they are often associated. Data show that homelessness affected 9% of clients entering outpatient drug treatment and about 13% of those entering inpatient treatment in 2008. About 40% of clients entering treatment in both settings had not completed their secondary education, while 47% of those entering outpatient and 71% of those entering inpatient treatment reported to be either unemployed or economically inactive (1). This may not improve under the current economic situation, where growing unemployment rates increase competition in the labour market (2).

All reporting countries mention the availability of housing, education and employment programmes and services. These are either targeted specifically at drug users or address the needs of socially excluded groups in general. Ireland and Sweden are discussing the ‘housing first model’ for homeless individuals with mental health and substance problems. This model is often associated with integrated community treatment and social services, and with case management. Access to accommodation is not contingent upon being sober and drug-free, as it normally is for this problematic group. The housing-first approach has shown positive outcomes for homeless people across a number of social and health variables including substance use (Pleace, 2008).

Improving the employability and access to paid work plays an important role in the social reintegration of drug users. Countries such as Germany, Italy, Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom have increasingly prioritised employment-related aspects of the recovery process through new initiatives and increased funding allocations.


(1) See Tables TDI-12, TDI-13 and TDI-15 in the 2010 statistical bulletin.

(2) See the box ‘Economic recession and drug problems’.

Bibliographic references

Pleace, N. (2008), Effective services for substance misuse and homelessness in Scotland: evidence from an international review, Scottish Government Social Research.

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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Monday, 25 October 2010