Home > Homelessness and drugs: health and social responses.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2022) Homelessness and drugs: health and social responses. Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. DOI: 10.2810/841350.

External website: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/mini-gui...

Key issues
Homelessness is considered to be an intense form of social exclusion. It negatively affects physical and mental health, quality of life and access to employment and other economic, social and health services. However, there are wide differences in defining what homelessness constitutes. This has caused a number of challenges, such as in assessing the prevalence of homelessness and comparing such assessments within and between countries. Broadly, homelessness encompasses individuals without stable, permanent and acceptable housing, or those lacking the prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. Under these conditions, people who use drugs face intersecting social, mental and physical health risks that significantly increase their morbidity and mortality.

The relationship between homelessness and drug use is complex with marked variations in the prevalence of high-risk drug use across groups of people who experience homelessness. For example, there is a clear intersection between homelessness and high-risk drug use among the two distinct groups of people experiencing long-term (chronic) and recurrent (episodic) homelessness. In contrast, high-risk drug use among those experiencing short-term or transitional homelessness does not seem to be higher than among the general population. Importantly, drug use and homelessness are interconnected in two directions: they may be contributing causes and consequences of each other.

There is a lack of information on some groups of people experiencing homelessness, such as women, youth, children, refugees and migrants, particularly in terms of patterns of substance use. As a result, some of these groups may be under-represented in data collection on homelessness and they may be missed by existing services...

Note: This miniguide is one of a larger set, which together comprise Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide. It provides an overview of the most important aspects to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses for families of people who use drugs and reviews the availability and effectiveness of the responses. It also considers implications for policy and practice.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Report
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
December 2022
Identification #
DOI: 10.2810/841350
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
Corporate Creators
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
Place of Publication

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