Importance of Social Reintegration for Recovery

"Research shows that drug treatment contact impacts positively on clients’ physical and psychological health, reduces drug use and criminal activity, reduces injection and lowers the risk of non-fatal overdose (e.g. Gossop et al., 2000a,b; Prendergast et al., 2002; Stewart et al., 2002; WHO, 2009). Thus, accessing and adhering to drug treatment is a significant step towards recovery from drug dependence, but additional social support is often required. Indeed, drug use affects many spheres of life, including family and relationships, housing, education and employment, and it is also associated with social and economic exclusion. This can undermine the gains people have made while in treatment. It is therefore increasingly recognised that, in order to improve treatment outcomes, prevent relapse and ensure successful integration into society, drug dependence must not be treated in isolation; instead, the wider context in which drug use and recovery take place must also be considered and addressed (UNODC, 2008; Neale and Kemp, 2010). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2008a, p. 18) describes this approach as ‘sustained recovery management’, as a positive alternative to the current common approach of ‘admit, treat, and discharge’, often resulting in revolving-door cycles of high dropout rates, post-treatment relapse and readmission rates.

"Consequently, the aim of social reintegration measures is to prevent or reverse the social exclusion of current and former drug users (including those who are already socially excluded and those who are at risk of social exclusion), but also to facilitate the recovery process and help sustain the outcomes achieved during treatment."


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, p. 22.