Homelessness and Drug Use

"Abstaining from or reducing drug use, engaging with and completing education, as well as securing and sustaining employment can all be great challenges if an individual has no access to supportive structures such as stable accommodation. Eight per cent of all outpatient clients in the EU starting a new treatment episode in 2009 were living in unstable accommodation (see Figure 1 on p. 45). This ranged from 2 % in Estonia to 20 % in France, 21 % in the Czech Republic and 33 % in Luxembourg. Within this population of drug users there are those subgroups that may be vulnerable or face additional barriers obtaining appropriate accommodation, such as women and young people, or those with enduring mental health problems (Shaw and McVeigh, 2008). There are many reasons why drug users may develop severe accommodation needs (whether they are defined as homeless or inappropriately accommodated), or why homeless people may start using drugs, and such progressions are rarely due to a single factor alone (Pleace, 2008). Typical reasons for homelessness may include a combination of mental health problems, unemployment, financial difficulties, criminal behaviour, relationship problems, family breakdown and difficulties in progressing into independent living after release from an institution (e.g. prison) (UKDPC, 2008a). Conversely, high-risk behaviours such as injecting drug use are reported to be prevalent among homeless people (EMCDDA, 2003a)."


European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, "EMCDDA Insights Series No 13: Social reintegration and employment: evidence and interventions for drug users in treatment" (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2012), doi: 10.2810/72023, p. 37.